Patients taking blood pressure medication should not stop treatment over COVID-19 concerns

A study by Sama et al. published in the European Heart Journal found that the ACE2 concentrations in heart failure patients are not affected by commonly used antihypertensives, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). This study adds an additional line of evidence that patients (at least those with heart failure) should not discontinue the treatment with life-saving drugs for blood pressure due to COVID-19 concerns, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Valentina Gburcik, PhD, Senior Director of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, Gender Health and Digital at GlobalData, commented: “Previously, there have been concerns that ACE inhibitors and ARBs increase COVID-19 severity and mortality and that these agents could increase the susceptibility to contracting COVID-19. Recent conflicting media reports have led to various speculations around the risk and severity of COVID-19 infection in patients using ACE2 inhibitors and ARBs; however, all major cardiology organizations still agree that the treatment with these drugs should not stop.

“An estimated 30% of human population suffers from high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. About 80% of these patients need to take medications to control it, according to the CDC. ACE inhibitors (such as enalapril, lisinopril and ramipril) and ARBs (such as losartan, valsartan and candesartan) are widely prescribed anti-hypertension medications.

“Contradictory reports around these drugs have many patients worrying about whether they should continue the treatment. This most recent study adds to the series of evidence published in recent weeks, showing that the ACE2 level in patients’ blood is not affected by these medications. These findings further support the current recommendations from European Society of Cardiology, American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Failure Society of America, which all emphasize the danger of discontinuing these drugs in COVID-19 patients.”

The Sama et al. study also found that men have higher concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in their blood compared to women. As SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to bind to the ACE2 receptor, this study suggests that higher levels of ACE2 in men could explain why men are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than women.

More Media