Two new viewpoint papers published in the Journal of the American Heart Association today turn a spotlight on how certain blood pressure medications may be associated with more severe Covid-19 infections — but still, it is important that patients continue taking their medications as prescribed, they say.
The papers focus on the types of drugs known as ACE inhibitors or ACEIs and angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs, which "upregulate" an enzyme called ACE2.
It turns out that the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 enters the body's cells through ACE2. Therefore there has been some speculation that heart and blood pressure medications that influence ACE2 could put patients at increased risk of severe Covid-19 infections — but until more research is conducted, doctors urge patients to keep taking their medicine.
"Taken together, ACE2 plays a protective role in both cardiovascular diseases and acute lung injury. For uninfected patients, we tend to believe it is unnecessary to discontinue ACEIs/ARBs given the lack of evidence to support the hypothesis that ACEIs/ARBs might lead to an increased risk of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection," authors Junyi Guo, Zheng Huang, Li Lin and Jiagao Lv wrote in one of the papers published Wednesday. The authors are from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus pandemic began.
They added that infected patients also should not discontinue their medications but there is no immediate need for an infected patient not already taking the medication to initiate use.
Both papers call for more research into this issue.