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Angiotensin Drugs and COVID-19: More Reassuring Data

“Though the number of patients included in this new report is small, it is startling that hypertensive patients were three times as likely as nonhypertensives to have a fatal outcome, presumably reflecting vulnerability due to the cardiovascular and metabolic comorbidities associated with hypertension,” he added.

“In any case, for now, clinicians should continue treating hypertensive patients with whichever drugs, including ACE inhibitors and ARBs, best provide protection from adverse outcomes,” Weber concluded.

John McMurray, MD, professor of medical cardiology, University of Glasgow, UK, commented: “This study from Wuhan provides some reassurance about one of the two questions about ACEI/ARBs: Do these drugs increase susceptibility to infection? And if infected, do they increase the severity of infection? This study addresses the latter question and appears to suggest no increased severity.”

However, McMurray pointed out that the study had many limitations. There were only small patient numbers and the data were unadjusted, “although it looks like the ACE inhibitor/ARB treated patients were higher risk to start with.” It was an observational study, and patients were not randomized and were predominantly treated with ARBs, and not ACE inhibitors, so “we don’t know if the concerns apply equally to these two classes of drug.”

“Other data published and unpublished supporting this (even showing better outcomes in patients treated with an ACE inhibitor/ARB), and, to date, any concerns about these drugs remain unsubstantiated and the guidance from medical societies to continue treatment with these agents in patients prescribed them seems wise,” McMurray added.

Franz H. Messerli, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Bern, Switzerland, commented: “The study from Wuhan is not a great study. They didn’t even do a multivariable analysis. They could have done a bit more with the data, but it still gives some reassurance.”

Messerli said it was “interesting” that 30% of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the sample had hypertension. “That corresponds to the general population, so does not suggest that having hypertension increases susceptibility to infection — but it does seem to increase the risk of a bad outcome.”

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