“This was the largest study to date that assessed the risk of severe cardiac arrhythmia in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine. “There was a low rate of arrhythmias in our patient sample and no cases related to hydroxychloroquine,” said lead researcher Dr. Alessio Gasperetti of the Monzino Cardiology Center in Milan and the University Hospital of Zurich.
Evidence from other studies so far shows that hydroxychloroquine is ineffective in patients with severe Covid-19, while its effectiveness in the early stages of the disease is still under discussion. The new study did not examine the effectiveness of this drug in fighting the coronavirus, but whether it is safe for the heart, given that there is little experience with its use in patients with Covid-19.
It is known that hydroxychloroquine, which has been used for decades to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, causes an electrical change in the heart of some patients (prolongation of the QT interval on the electrocardiogram), which has been associated with the potential for potentially fatal. In the midst of the current pandemic, the drug was first used in large numbers of patients, in the acute phase and with multiple health problems.
The new study, published in the European Society of Cardiology EP Europace, was performed on 649 Covid-19 patients with an average age of 62 in seven hospitals and in-home care. Everyone was taking 200 milligrams of hydroxychloroquine twice a day, shortly after the onset of symptoms. Over a period of 16 days, on average, there were no fatal arrhythmias. Only 1% of patients (seven patients) developed severe arrhythmia, but it was judged that no case was related to hydroxychloroquine.
“Hydroxychloroquine treatment was associated with QT prolongation, as expected, but the change was small. There was no relationship between the drug and the occurrence of arrhythmias. Our study shows that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with other medicines that can also prolong QT is safe for short-term treatment of Covid-19 patients at home or in hospital, provided their condition is assessed and an electrocardiogram is performed. “, Noted Dr. Gasperetti.