Dexamethasone treatment for Covid-19: Benefits outweigh risks

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INDIVIDUALS with severe Covid-19 often undergo treatment with a steroid drug called dexamethasone.

Researchers studied whether these people experience severe complications from the side effects of steroid treatment.

Those who received treatment with dexamethasone had a 56% reduced risk of death or ICU admission from COVID-19.

Metabolic experts conclude receiving dexamethasone does not increase death or ICU admission in people with severe COVID-19.

With the advent of the worldwide SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, clinicians and researchers scrambled to find effective therapies for the life threatening complications of COVID-19.

Early clinical experience suggested that administering powerful steroids improves outcomes in people with COVID-19 who require oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

However, steroids have adverse side effects, including elevated blood glucose levels. In individuals with and without a history of diabetes, this can result in short- and long-term complications, such as an increased risk of infection or metabolic imbalance.

Researchers released results at the November 2021 Society for Endocrinology meeting after observing a large group of people with COVID-19 receiving treatment with dexamethasone, a steroid that doctors use to treat patientsTrusted Source with lung inflammation.

Dr. Victoria Salem, a principal investigator, shared with Medical News Today: “Dexamethasone is now standard of care in patients hospitalized with [COVID-19] requiring oxygen — based on the RECOVERY trial.

We looked at over 2,000 patients hospitalized with [COVID-19] in our London hospital and performed a multivariate analysis of risk factors for death.

“It’s already known that diabetes is a risk factor for severe COVID. High blood sugars are also a predictor of poor outcomes.

Since dexamethasone pushes up blood sugars, we were worried that dexamethasone might have been a double-edged sword for patients with diabetes, but, in fact, it turned out to be just as effective.”

To understand dexamethasone’s effects, researchers looked at the number of ICU admissions, reduced mortality, and steroid-related complications in 2,261 patients admitted to the Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service (NHS) Trust hospitals.

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