Henry Ford study indicates early use of steroids for COVID-19 prevents need for ventilator

Researchers saw 'good results' with methylprednisolone

Henry Ford nurse describes what it's like for patients, families
Henry Ford nurse describes what it's like for patients, families

DETROIT – Researchers at Henry Ford reported seeing “promising results” in March when they used corticosteroids to treat patients early in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Metro Detroit.

The study was published in May 2020 in “Clinical Infectious Disease.” Researchers said that early use of methylprednisolone, or Medrol, prevented more patients from being admitted to ICU, being intubated, being put on a ventilator, and dying.

READ: Michigan is 1 of 2 states ‘on track to contain COVID,’ data shows

“We found that use of methylprednisolone early in hospitalization can beneficially affect the body’s immune reaction and systemic inflammatory responses -- the cytokine storm -- in COVID-19,” said study author Dr. Mayur Ramesh, Senior Staff Physician in the Henry Ford Health System Division of Infectious Disease at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

According to Henry Ford, the drug is typically used to decrease immune response that results in swelling, pain, and allergic-type reactions.

The study looked at 213 patients who were admitted to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit in the early days of the pandemic.

READ: Who was most severely affected during peak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Metro Detroit?

“It compares 81 patients admitted between March 10 and March 19 to 132 patients admitted later in the early stages of the pandemic, between March 20 and March 27. The later patients received the steroid protocol, which was implemented on March 20,” according to a news release.

The patients treated with a 3-day methylprednisolone protocol spent less time in the hospital (5 vs 8 days). They were also less likely to be admitted to the ICU (27% vs 44%), being placed on a ventilator (22% vs 37%) or dying (14% vs 26%), according to officials.

“It seems to be crucial for patients with COVID-19 symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, to receive corticosteroid early in hospitalization to prevent ICU admission and death,” Dr. Ramesh added. 

Henry Ford medical teams have used a combination of Remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, Interlukin 6, convalescent plasma, proning and other measures to provide treatment for COVID-19.

“Caregivers like Dr. Ramesh have been integral to pushing science forward in the treatment of COVID-19,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Henry Ford Health System. “They have saved lives, there is no doubt about it.”

READ: Henry Ford Health is enrolling for prophylactic hydroxychloroquine study

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