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Nitric oxide could reduce COVID-19 patients' need for ventilators

It’s already being used to treat people with lung failure.

HOUSTON — Lung failure is the leading cause of death in patients with COVID-19.

That’s why ventilators have become a precious commodity in hospitals across the country.

However, a doctor at Methodist Hospital says nitric oxide gas may be the key to keeping coronavirus patients out of intensive care units.

“It improves blood flow, it improves oxygenation. There’s some evidence that it also can directly destroy the virus,” said Dr. John Cooke, Chair of Houston Methodist Cardiovascular Science.

Cooke said nitric oxide gas was used during the 2004 SARS outbreak.

It’s also already being used to treat people with lung failure in ICUs.

“At Houston Methodist Hospital, we have been using in selective patients with COVID-19,” Cook said.

An international clinical trial is underway. Hospitals in Massachusetts, Louisiana and Alabama are participating.

They’re testing whether giving nitric oxide gas to patients with mild to moderate cases of the coronavirus can stop the virus from devastating people’s lungs.

That could potentially decrease the number of patients who need ventilators and free up space in ICUs.

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