In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was speculation on social media and mainstream medical sites that people with high blood pressure should stop taking drugs such as Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers. (ARBs). Based on a theory that SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, uses the angiotensin enzyme to enter cells. Theoretically, people on these drugs more susceptible and more likely to become severely ill. Like any theory, “the proof is in the pudding” and when scientists examined people on these medications, they found that theory did not hold. Given that these medications have been proven; to improve and indeed prolong life, the consensus is DO NOT STOP these medications. Common drugs of these classes include, but not limited to:
The question is, what do we know about the relationship between high blood pressure (hypertension) and Covid-19? Studies from early ‘hot spots’ such as Wuhan and New York pointed to a higher hypertension rate among severely ill, hospitalized patients. Larger studies in the U.S. showed similar findings. The problem is since we know that the risk of severe disease is linked to age, and the prevalence of hypertension also increases as we get older, does high blood pressure put us at higher risk or is it simply a coincidence? For now, the answer is unclear. One certain thing, we can and should take precautions to limit the transmission of the virus. Physical distancing and enhanced sanitizing, and a properly fitted mask can help us to reduce our risks.