Blood pressure medicine has been found to reduce the risk of critical illness or death from Covid-19 for people with high blood pressure, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Norwich medical school at the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that patients with high blood pressure who took angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) had a significantly lower chance of death after contracting Covid-19.
The findings contradict previous research, which raised concerns that such medication may worsen the effects of the virus.
What prompted the new research?
High blood pressure affects roughly one in four adults in the UK and is thought to increase a person’s chances of dying from Covid-19. A study last month confirmed that hypertension was the most common condition found in patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus.
The UEA research came after previous research carried out by hospitals in Chinese cities, such as Wuhan, at the beginning of the pandemic. The research from Chinese hospitals earlier in the year had proposed that certain high blood pressure medications may worsen the effects of Covid-19.
They suggested such drugs may help the virus enter the body’s cells, letting it access and harm the lung tissue more easily. This advice resulted in many patients with high blood pressure abandoning the drugs.
What information did the researchers use?
UEA researchers collaborated with the Norfolk and Norwich university hospital during the recent research in order to assess 19 separate studies, which involved nearly 29,000 patients in total.
Lead researcher, Dr Vassilios Vassiliou said, “We found that there was a significantly lower risk of death and critical outcomes, so they might in fact have a protective role, particularly in patients with hypertension.”
He added that “the really important thing that we showed was that there is no evidence that these medications might increase the severity of Covid-19 or risk of death.”
The researchers also studied the effect of taking common medications on coronavirus patients who suffer from a range of conditions.
What did the researchers find?
The study concluded that patients with high blood pressure who took the drugs were found to be 67 per cent less likely to die or fall into a critical condition, than those who were not medicated with the drugs.
Meanwhile, the drugs made no difference to the outcome of the virus for those patients medicating for other conditions, such as heart and kidney failure, diabetes and strokes.
What about patients without high blood pressure?
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest the drugs would have the same effect on those without high blood pressure as it does on patients with the condition.