These blood pressure drugs safe for people with severe COVID-19, study finds

In a new study, researchers found that drugs to treat high blood pressure did not affect outcomes among patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

The findings show there is no risk for patients continuing these medications while hospitalized for COVID-19.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study examined whether ACE inhibitors (ACEIs) or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs)—two classes of medications to treat high blood pressure—could help mitigate complications or lead to more severe symptoms.

More than 49 million U.S. adults take medication to treat hypertension, and among those, about 83% (41 million) take an ACEI or ARB, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A potential link between those medications and COVID-19 outcomes has large global health implications.

Several observational studies suggested no association between outpatient ACEI or ARB use and risk of COVID-19 hospitalization, but high-quality randomized trial evidence was lacking, until now.

In the study, the team enrolled 152 participants across several countries, who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and already using one of the medications.

The participants were assigned to either stop or continue taking their medication and closely monitored to evaluate the effect of temporarily stopping the therapy.

The team found discontinuation of ACEIs and ARBs compared with continuation of these medications had no effect on the COVID-19 outcomes.

This evidence supports international society recommendations for continuing ACEI and ARB therapy in patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, unless there is a clear, alternate medical issue with ongoing therapy.

The team says stopping these drugs can lead to serious complications, including heart attack and stroke.

This study shows high quality evidence to support patients continue to take these medications as prescribed.

One author of the study is Julio A. Chirinos, MD, Ph.D., an associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine.

The study is published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

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