Background: Administration of glucocorticoids might reduce mortality in patients with severe COVID-19 but have adverse cardiometabolic effects. Objectives: to investigate the effect of systemic administration of glucocorticoids on cardiovascular complications and all-cause mortality in patients hospitalised with respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19, SARS, MERS and influenza. Methods: We identified randomised trials published prior to July 28th, 2021. The Mantel-Haenszel random effects method and the Hartung and Knapp adjustment were used to obtain pooled estimates of treatment effect with 95% confidence intervals. Results: No randomised trials of glucocorticoids for SARS, MERS or influenza reported relevant outcomes. We included eleven COVID-19 randomised trials (8,109 patients).Overall, compared to placebo or standard care, glucocorticoids were not associated with a reduction of in-hospital mortality (p=0.09). In a pre-specified sub-analysis, in-hospital mortality was reduced by 19% when follow-up was restricted to 14 days from randomisation (5/11 trials, 1,329 patients, p=0.02). With longer follow-up (9/11 trials, 7,874 patients), administration of glucocorticoids was associated with a trend to benefit for those requiring mechanical ventilation (RR 0.86; 95% CI 0.57-1.27) but possible harm for those not receiving oxygen at randomisation (RR 1.27; 95% CI 1.00 – 1.61), an effect that was significantly different amongst subgroups (p = 0.0359). Glucocorticoids reduced the risk of worsening renal function by 37% (4/11 trials); reported rate of other cardiovascular complications was low. Conclusions: Administration of systemic glucocorticoids to patients hospitalised with COVID-19 does not lower mortality overall but may reduce it in those requiring respiratory support and increase it in those who do not.
Caiazzo, E., Rezig, A., Bruzzese, D., Ialenti, A., Cicala, C., Cleland, J., Guzik, T., Maffia, P. & Pellicori, P. 2022, 'Systemic administration of glucocorticoids, cardiovascular complications and mortality in patients hospitalised with COVID-19, SARS, MERS or influenza: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials', Pharmacological Research, 176, article no: 106053. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2021.106053