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If you test positive for COVID-19, tell your care team right away to help determine the best treatment. In most cases treatment of COVID includes rest, over-the-counter medicines for headache or fever, drinking plenty of water, and taking steps to lower the chances of spreading the virus to other people.

If you are at high risk of becoming very ill, there are other treatments that may be recommended. These need to be taken within the first few days of getting COVID to be most effective. How well these therapies work may also depend on the specific variant or strain of the virus.

 COVID treatment focuses on:

  • Lowering the chance of severe illness, hospitalization or dying from the disease
  • Calming an overly active immune response, as some people’s immune systems overreact to the virus
  • Managing symptoms and complications, for example using medication to lower a fever; other therapies in the hospital include oxygen therapy or ventilator support
  • Isolating from others so the virus doesn’t spread

Some treatments include:

  • Antiviral treatments that target specific parts of the virus to stop it from multiplying in the body, while helping to prevent severe illness and death.
  • Monoclonal antibodies that help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
  • Corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, that can lessen inflammation and calm the immune system; these are usually given to patients with COVID-19 who are in the hospital and need supplemental oxygen.
  • Blood thinners or anticoagulants for those in the hospital to help  prevent blot clots.

Some treatments for COVID might have side effects or interact with medications you may be taking. Talk with your health care team to find out what treatments are right for you.

COVID-19 Treatment: Effect on Heart Medications

The combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (also known as Paxlovid) has received emergency use authorization from the FDA. It's an antiviral treatment for people 12 and older to help prevent severe illness from COVID-19. However, use of this medication may require putting off or adjusting other medications you might be taking, such as blood thinners, drugs for heart rhythm problems, or cholesterol-lowering medications.

Before starting treatment for COVID, such as Paxlovid, talk with your health care team about the medications you’re taking, and the benefits and drawbacks of treatment.

You might have to consider what it means for you to take a medication to prevent severe COVID if you are also required to stop or lower the amount of another drug that you normally take. After understanding the options, you can decide together what’s best for you.

Clinical trials are ongoing to test treatments for COVID-19. Cardiologists are involved to make sure these therapies 1) don’t interfere with the medications that people with heart conditions commonly take and 2) don’t harm the heart (for example, to be sure they don’t trigger dangerous heartbeats). 

For the latest updates on treatment for COVID-19, visit NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines.
  • Last Edited 06/13/2022