Blood pressure medications boost COVID-19 survival rates

Antihypertensive medications can improve COVID-19 survival rates and reduce the likelihood of severe illness, according to a new meta-analysis published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports.

The study’s authors explored data from 19 different studies, focusing on the impact of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs). More than 28,000 patients were included in the final cohort, and patients taking an ACEi or ARB were compared to those who were not.

“We know that patients with cardiovascular diseases are at particular risk of severe COVID-19 infection,” lead researcher Vassilios S. Vassiliou, MD, of the University of East Anglia in the U.K., said in a statement. “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. We wanted to find out what the impact of these medications is for people with COVID-19.”

Overall, the team found that patients undergoing ACEi or ARB treatment had a reduced risk of death and critical outcomes. In fact, Vassiliou added in the same statement, “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.”

“This is the largest meta-analysis including critical events and mortality data on patients prescribed ACEi/ARB and found evidence of beneficial effects of chronic ACEi/ARB use especially in hypertensive cohort with COVID-19,” the authors concluded. “As such, we would strongly encourage patients to continue with RAAS inhibitor pharmacotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This echoes the recommendations, first published in March 2020, of the American Heart Association, Heart Failure Society of America, and American College of Cardiology.

The full Current Atherosclerosis Reports analysis is available here.