Blood pressure drugs can halve the risk of a severe COVID infection for those with hypertension, new research finds.
More than one billion of the world’s population have high blood pressure, a leading cause of premature death.
The coronavirus pandemic has a greater impact on some people’s health and individuals with high blood pressure are amongst them.
Researchers have now found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 is doubled for a person who has hypertension.
The risk of death from COVID-19 is even higher for those who are not taking a blood pressure medication for their condition.
Data were collected from 2,866 COVID-19 patients, 30 percent of whom had a medical history of hypertension.
The study found that hypertensive patients with coronavirus had double the risk of dying compared to patients without high blood pressure.
The coronavirus death rate for those with the condition but not taking any hypertension drug was doubled compared to those who were taking a blood pressure medicine.
Furthermore, the research team analysed this information with more data from 2,300 patients in three different studies.
They investigated the coronavirus death rates in hypertensive patients who were on blood pressure treatment drugs aiming the hormone renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS).
RAAS contains three hormones, aldosterone, renin, and angiotensin II, which are all involved in regulating the body’s blood pressure and electrolyte and fluid balance.
The study looked into the effect of drugs such as angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and non-RAAS inhibiting drugs including calcium channel blockers (CCBs), diuretics, and beta blockers.
The team noticed that those patients who were on RAAS inhibitors were less likely to die of the coronavirus infection compared to those who were taking other antihypertensive drugs.
Professors Fei Li, study co-author, said:
“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realise that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19.
They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus.
In addition, there were 140 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 who had discontinued their anti-hypertensive treatment due to various reasons.
We found that this was associated with a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus.
In contrast to our initial hypothesis, we found that RAAS inhibitors, such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, were not linked to an increased risk of dying from COVID-19 and, in fact, may be protective.
Therefore, we suggest that patients should not discontinue or change their usual antihypertensive treatment unless instructed by a physician.”
A study by Khera et al., also suggests that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors could lower the risk of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the European Heart Journal (Gao et al., 2020).