Researchers from China and Ireland also concluded that the chance of dying is even higher in those who are not treating the condition.
Patients with elevated blood pressure are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19, according to research published last Thursday (4) in the European Heart Journal. The study also found that the chances of dying are even higher in those who do not take medication to control the condition.
Chinese and Irish researchers analyzed data from 2866 Sars-CoV-2 infected patients who were admitted to the Huo Shen Shan hospital in Wuhan, China, between February 5 and March 15, 2020. According to the scientists, among the 850 hypertensive patients in the studied group, 34 died, a number equivalent to 4% of the total. In the same period, only 1.1% of hospitalized people who did not have high blood pressure died.
Among patients with hypertension who were not taking medication to control the condition, 7.8% died from the new coronavirus. Among those who maintained adequate blood pressure levels with the use of medication, only 3.2% died in the same period.
“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realise that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19,” said Fei Li, the study’s leader, in a statement. “They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus.”
The researchers also looked at the therapeutic drugs used by patients to treat hypertension, focusing on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) – drugs that include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). In addition, other types of substances were analyzed, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and diuretics.
“In contrast to our initial hypothesis, we found that RAAS inhibitors, such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, were not linked to an increased risk of dying from COVID-19 and, in fact, may be protective,” explained Li. “Therefore, we suggest that patients should not discontinue or change their usual antihypertensive treatment unless instructed by a physician.”
Scientists point out, however, that since this was an observational study, more research is needed to establish more accurate recommendations. Controlled and randomized clinical trials are essential to conclude the role played by RAAS inhibitors in patients with Covid-19.
“These data should be interpreted cautiously. However, they support recommendations for the European Society of Cardiology that patients should not discontinue or change their normal, antihypertensive treatment,” said Ling Tao, who also participated in the research.