Health

NHS doctors to give Covid patients statins and blood pressure drugs

NHS doctors to give Covid patients statins and blood pressure drugs in hope they will prove to save lives as part of new trial

  • Participants will be given apixaban – or Elquis – typically used to stop blood clots
  • Or the cholesterol busting drug atrovastatin – sold over the counter for £12
  • Researchers are aiming to recruit more than 2,000 patients to the clinical trials 

Hospitalised Covid patients are to receive statins and blood pressure drugs after they are discharged in a new trial.

Doctors hope the common medications could save lives, with thousands of Brits known to have died after being released from wards.

NHS medics will test the two drugs on 2,600 ‘long Covid’ patients over the next three years.  

Office for National Statistics data show around one in ten coronavirus patients die within six months of being released from wards.

And three in ten need to be readmitted following complications such as breathing difficulties and liver and kidney problems.   

Doctors will prescribe the medicine atorvastatin – sold over the counter as Lipitor – and apixaban – available on prescription as Elquis 

STATINS ‘CUT RISK OF COVID DEATH’, STUDY 

Cholesterol drugs taken by around eight million Britons could slash the risk of death from coronavirus, a new study has claimed.

Statins, taken to reduce ‘bad’ blood cholesterol, were found to cut mortality by 43 per cent compared to non-statin users.

The British Heart Foundation says that statins are typically prescribed more than 70 million times a year.

Now, a team has analysed 12 studies on the drug’s effectiveness, which looked at 110,078 patients who died of coronavirus.

They found that giving statins to patients in hospital at the early stages of Covid infection cut the mortality rate by close to half.

The tablets are taken once a day and come in brands including Lipitor, Lescol and Crestor.

They are proven to help protect cholesterol sufferers from heart attacks and strokes.

However, there is much debate over them, with side effects including weight gain, muscle pain and liver damage.

Half of the volunteers will be offered apixaban — available on prescription as Elquis, a blood-thinning drug given to stroke survivors.

And the other half will get cholesterol-busting drug atorvastatin — sold over the counter for £12 as Lipitor. 

They will begin recruiting patients to the three-year trial – dubbed HEAL-Covid – next week. 

It is being led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge University and the University of Liverpool.  

Studies have shown Covid can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks.

Imperial College Healthcare, in London, is already offering apixaban to patients who have survived the virus and being discharged from hospital.

A leaflet from the trust published online reads: ‘Our experience with the coronavirus infection has shown that it increases the risk of having a blood clot in the veins.’

They add: ‘This can be serious if the clot moves into the lungs and blocks the lung’s blood vessels causing a pulmonary embolism (blockage in the lungs).’

Studies have also suggested statins could reduce the risk of dying from coronavirus or being hooked up to a ventilator. 

One Chinese study said the cholesterol-busting drugs, which cost pennies, could cut the risk by 45 per cent.

Doctors are desperate for more weapons in their arsenal for treating Covid, and the after-effects of the disease.

Only tocilizumab, sarilumab and dexamethasone have been approved for use in the UK, after trials found they could help Covid patients. 

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