Common high blood pressure drugs may reduce death risks in these two diseases

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In a recent study at Aarhus University, researchers found that high blood pressure drugs ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers could reduce the death risks of influenza and pneumonia.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author is Christian Fynbo Christiansen.

In the study, the team compared mortality rates among 500,000 Danish patients who were admitted to hospitals in Denmark with influenza and pneumonia during the period 2005 to 2018.

They found a little over 100,000 of the admitted patients took ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.

Fewer of the patients were put on a ventilator and that they had lower mortality rates than the hospitalized patients who took another type of drug against elevated blood pressure, calcium blockers.

The study arrives mid in a discussion of treatment which peaked while the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height.

Some medical doctors and researchers pointed out that ACE inhibitors may actually have the completely opposite effect – that is increasing the risk of dying from COVID-19 as the virus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 enters the lungs through the same ACE receptors as the ACE inhibitors.

The hypothesis was that when the ACE inhibitor reduces the level of ACE, the body compensates for this by activating a much greater number of ACE receptors on the surface of the cells, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus then utilizes as some kind of access key.

The greater the number of access keys available on the surface of the cells, the more easily the virus gains access to the cells.

The theory about increased mortality has been nurtured by the fact that a strikingly large proportion of the patients who were seriously ill due to COVID-19 had elevated blood pressure, which is extensively treated with ACE inhibitors.

But other studies have found that the theory is not true.

For example, one study from Columbia University found that there was no increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalization, or complications for users of either ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers ARBs to treat high blood pressure.

While other studies have generated similar findings recently, this Columbia study is the most comprehensive to date of COVID-19 susceptibility risks for blood pressure drug users.

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