A new study from the European Society of Cardiology has revealed that patients with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dying from COVID-19. The researchers also found that this risk is further elevated among patients who are not controlling their high blood pressure with medication.
“Soon after we started to treat COVID-19 patients in early February in Wuhan, we noticed that nearly half of the patients who died had high blood pressure, which was a much higher percentage compared to those with only mild COVID-19 symptoms,” said Professor Ling Tao of Xijing Hospital.
“At the same time, some researchers were raising concerns that RAAS inhibitors might be facilitating the entry of the coronavirus into cells and making people more susceptible to the disease.”
“We were quite surprised that these results did not support our initial hypothesis; in fact, the results were in the opposite direction, with a trend in favour of ACE inhibitors and ARBs. We think this is exactly why practice based on clinical evidence is more vital than ever.”
The study was focused on data from 2,866 patients who were treated for COVID-19 at Huo Shen Shan hospital in Wuhan, China. Overall, 850 of the patients had a medical history of high blood pressure, or hypertension.
The investigation showed that 34 out of 850 hypertensive COVID-19 patients died compared to 22 out of 2,027 patients without high blood pressure.
After adjusting for factors that could have affected the outcome, such as additional medical conditions, the researchers estimated that hypertensive patients are 2.12 times more likely to develop a deadly COVID-19 infection.
The team also estimated that patients with hypertension who were not taking the proper medication are 2.17 times more likely to die from coronavirus.
“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realize that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19. They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus,” said Professor Fei Li of Xijing Hospital.
“In addition, there were 140 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 who had discontinued their anti-hypertensive treatment due to various reasons. We found that this was associated with a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus.”
“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. Therefore, we suggest that patients should not discontinue or change their usual antihypertensive treatment unless instructed by a physician.”
The study is published in the European Heart Journal.