Keep taking your blood pressure medicine during the pandemic, scientists say

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Each day, at least half a million Danes take a small pill to keep their blood pressure down or to protect against heart disease.

In a new study, researchers suggest these patients should continue to take the medicine during the pandemic—even if the pill they take is an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blockers such as losartan, enalapril or ramipril.

The study finally removes any lingering suspicion that this particular type of blood pressure medicine increases the risk of getting COVID-19 or of suffering a worse illness.

The research was conducted by a team at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.

In the study, the team examined people who were tested in the period from 27 February to 26 July this year.

They focused on whether users of the popular blood pressure medications had an increased probability of a positive corona test, and whether the outcome of any illness was different than that of users of other types of blood pressure medication.

The comparison group also includes people who do not take blood pressure medication.

The researchers found that people who take ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin II receptor blockers had the same probability of a positive test—and no increased risk of being hospitalized or dying.

The new study is part of a discussion about treatment that peaked in the early summer when the coronavirus was still a new acquaintance.

At the time, medical doctors and researchers feared that ACE inhibitors could actually increase the risk of dying from COVID-19 because the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 enters the lungs through the same ACE receptors as the ACE inhibitors.

The theory about increased mortality was nourished by the fact that many of the severely ill COVID-19 patients had elevated blood pressure, which is widely treated with these ACE inhibitors.

This is also why it was important to include all the people who had been tested—and not just those who were hospitalized—in the study.

Researchers now have a qualified basis to reiterate the current recommendation that users of medicines of the type ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin II blockers should continue to take their medicine while the pandemic is raging.

One author of the study is Christian Fynbo Christiansen.

The study is published in Thorax.

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