Fact Finders: Do ibuprofen and other common medications make COVID-19 symptoms worse?

FACT FINDERS: Can ibuprofen worsen COVID-19 symptoms?

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Do ibuprofen and other commonly used medications make the disease caused by the novel coronavirus worse?

“The idea that Ibuprofen causes harm is very far overblown right now on social media,” Dr. Will Heise, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix said.

Heise also practices at the Banner Health Department of Medical Toxicology and is affiliated with Banner University Medical Center Phoenix and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“We know ibuprofen and ACE inhibitors, which are things like lisinopril that many people are on, and angiotensin receptor blockers increase the amount of ACE II, which is a particular enzyme that is outside of our cells,” Heise said.

An angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, or ACE inhibitor for short, are prescribed to help treat high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Heise said it is one of two enzymes coronavirus binds to enter the cell.

“The theory is that by having more ACE II on the outside of your cells, coronavirus can enter your cells more easily, and that causes you to be more susceptible to the infection and potentially make it more severe,” Heise said.

Heise said this theory is based on a trial published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“They looked at a few dozen patients and made an observation and then made a conjecture from that about the ACE II enzymes, and then a conjecture on that conjecture about what that would do,” Heise said.

Right now, Heise said, the science isn’t clear, yet, if taking ibuprofen can worse COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have no convincing evidence that is true in any way, shape or form,” Heise said. “The World Health Organization says not to avoid the use of Ibuprofen and these other medicines. The appropriate medical societies have all looked at the evidence and said, ‘look, if you are on these medications that are often used for high blood pressure, you should just keep taking them.'"

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