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Breathing freely

Nitric oxide tanks.

Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) can be a valuable adjunct respiratory therapy for pregnant women with severe and critical COVID-19, a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found.

The delivery of the therapeutic gas to six COVID-19 pregnant patients admitted to MGH, as described in a paper in Obstetrics & Gynecology, resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in cardiopulmonary function and decreased inflammation.

The resolution of viral infection within 22 days was observed in five of the six patients, findings that could have important implications for treating viruses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The study is the first to investigate the role of inhaled NO in pregnant people with COVID-19.

The patients experienced rapid relief from breathlessness, a lower respiratory rate, and better oxygenation after mask administration of high concentration NO, according to Lorenzo Berra in the Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at MGH. Berra also reported no negative side effects.

“In addition, inflammatory markers showed a rapid decrease after breathing NO and five of the six patients in our study showed viral clearance from nasopharyngeal swabs by 22 days after COVID-19 diagnosis,” Berra, corresponding author of the study, added. “All patients were discharged in stable condition from the hospital. We found these results to be very encouraging.”

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