Ivabradine May Treat COVID-19 Long-hauler Symptom

The study was the first randomized clinical trial using the therapy to treat POTS.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine has discovered that the heart failure medicine ivabradine helps to improve postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) symptoms. POTS is a disorder that impacts the autonomic nervous system and has been identified as a potential long-hauler symptom of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

"Ivabradine is a novel agent that's FDA-approved for heart failure, but based on its mechanism we thought it could be helpful for patients with POTS as it reduces heart rate without impacting blood pressure," Pam Taub, an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine said. "When we can lower the heart rate, we're providing these patients with the ability to stand up, something they couldn't do without difficulty before due to their POTS diagnosis."

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, investigated the therapy for its effects on heart rate, plasma norepinephrine levels, and quality of life in people who were living with POTS. Investigators screened and recruited 22 participants between 2018 and 2020 for the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study. The participants received either the therapy or a placebo for 1 month, then went a week without receiving either. After the week was finished, the participants switched places, with the arm who received the therapy receiving the placebo and vice versa.

Findings from the study showed that those who received the therapy experienced a reduced heart rate, symptom improvement and an overall benefit in their quality of life after one month. Ivabradine was well tolerated and no significant side effects were observed.

The authors behind the study hope that their research can help ivabradine become another possible treatment for recovering COVID-19 patients who are experiencing symptoms of POTS.

"In our contemporary practice, we are seeing patients who have previously been infected with COVID-19 present with symptoms consistent with POTS," Jonathan Hsu, a cardiologist at UC San Diego Health said. "Given the similarities, this study leads to the question whether therapy with ivabradine may help patients who experience similar symptoms after a COVID-19 infection, and provide an important area for future study as well."