Certain high blood pressure medications may help reduce the severity of disease and mortality rates for those infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a new study published in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia looked at 19 studies in the meta-analysis involving approximately 28,000 patients who took antihypertension medications such as Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB) and found they had less of a risk of severe illness and deaths from the virus than those who did not take the medications. The investigators stated in the university’s news release that they looked at “critical” outcomes of the patients, such as ICU admissions, being put on a ventilator, and death.
“Hypertensive patients with COVID-19 who were on ACEi/ARB were 0.67 times less likely to have a fatal/critical outcome than those not on ACEi/ARB. ACEi/ARB was also associated with a significantly lower risk of death in hypertensive patients,” the researchers stated.
“COVID-19 patients with high blood pressure who were taking ACEi/ARB medications were 0.67 times less likely to have a critical or fatal outcome than those not taking these medications,” they added.
“We know that patients with cardiovascular diseases are at particular risk of severe COVID-19 infection. But at the start of the pandemic, there was concern that specific medications for high blood pressure could be linked with worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients,” lead researcher Dr. Vassilios Vassiliou of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said in a university news release.
The researchers found that not only was there no evidence that the medications might increase the severity of the virus or coronavirus-related death, but noted they found that “there was a significantly lower risk of death and critical outcomes, so they might, in fact, have a protective role — particularly in patients with hypertension,” Vassiliou stated in the release.
The lead researcher said one-third of the infected patients with high blood pressure and one-quarter of the patients, in general, were taking ace inhibitors and ace receptor blockers. He attributed this to the increased risk of contracting the virus in those who have co-morbidities such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
It’s important to understand the relationship these medications have in patients with coronavirus as the population prepares for a potential second wave of COVID-19, the researchers said.
“Our research provides substantial evidence to recommend continued use of these medications if the patients were taking them already,” Vassiliou added, “However, we are not able to address whether starting such tablets acutely in patients with COVID-19 might improve their prognosis, as the mechanism of action might be different,” he added.
The authors also pointed out that this was an observational meta-analysis and not a randomized controlled study.