COVID-19 antiviral may lead to slow heart rate, study finds

Remdesivir, an FDA-approved COVID-19 treatment, may carry a risk of bradycardic events — or a slowed heart rate — among hospitalized patients who had bradycardia, according to a study published Feb. 14 in JAMA

Among 188 study participants with COVID-19, the minimum heart rates were lower after taking remdesivir than the lowest rates before five doses of the medication. The mean minimum heart rate was lowest after the fourth dose, falling by 15.2 beats per minute. 

Veklury, the brand name for remdesivir, is an antiviral drug approved to treat COVID-19 in adults and most pediatric patients who are hospitalized or those not hospitalized but have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness, according to the FDA

The product is the only approved COVID-19 antiviral; Paxlovid and Lagevrio have emergency use authorization, which is not an indefinite clearance. 

Most of the participants who had a slowed heart rate experienced it in the 24 hours after each dose. Based on these results and because COVID-19 drug clinical trials rarely test for serious cardiovascular adverse reactions, the researchers said healthcare workers should be aware of this potential risk.


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