Two popular classes of blood pressure medications may increase the risk of getting a severe coronavirus infection, according to a new scientific paper.
Millions of Americans take angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). They’re two of the most prescribed types of medications in the country.
ACE drugs include:
- Lotensin (benazepril)
- Vasotec (enalapril)
- Prinivil (lisinopril)
- Altace (ramipril)
- Aceon (perindopril).
Common ARBs include:
- Avapro (irbesartan)
- Edarbi (azilsartan)
- Cozaar (losartan)
- Teveten (eprosartan).
Both classes of drugs work by affecting a hormone called angiotensin II. It causes blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure. ACEs lower the amount of angiotensin II in the body. ARBs inhibit the hormone’s effects.
An article published in the Journal of Travel Medicine presented one expert’s hypothesis about how these drugs might affect COVID-19.
Dr. James Diaz was the paper’s author. He noted that coronavirus enters the lungs through angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors in your lower respiratory tracts. In severe cases, pneumonia and respiratory failure follow in 10 to 14 days. This is often fatal.
ACE inhibitors and ARBs increase the number of ACE2 receptors. That could translate to more opportunities for the coronavirus to enter and overwhelm the lungs.
Dr. Diaz says his suspicions are supported by an analysis of 1,099 COVID-19 patients in China. That study found that patients with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease had more severe outcomes. All of these are conditions that doctors commonly treat with ACE inhibitors or ARBs.
“Many of those who develop these diseases are older adults,” said Dr. Diaz. “They are prescribed these medications and take them every day.”
What’s more, Dr. Diaz points out that children are only mildly affected by coronavirus…and children have fewer ACE2 receptors.
Still, Dr. Diaz emphasizes that his conclusions are not definitive. He recommends future case-control studies in patients with COVID-19.
“Patients treated with ACEIs and ARBs for cardiovascular diseases should not stop taking their medicine,” he says.
If You’re on These Meds, Take Extra Coronavirus Precautions
Don’t stop taking your blood pressure drug. But take extra precautions to avoid coronavirus exposure. Practice social isolation and handwashing religiously.
As soon as possible, talk to your doctor about whether you can switch to a different class of hypertension medication. For many people, diuretics (water pills) are an effective alternative.
Editor’s Note: If you’re worried about the coronavirus outbreak, you need to know about “infinite immunity.” It’s a recent Nobel Prize-winning discovery that gives your body the power to fight off most infections. You can find out more by reading our monthly journal, Independent Healing. Go HERE.