While recent reports have suggested that side effects of blood pressure drugs like valsartan, losartan and other similar treatments may worsen COVID-19 infections, the findings of a new study indicates there does not appear to be any association between use of the medications and an increased risk of testing positive for coronavirus or suffering worse symptoms.
In March, a group of Swiss researchers published a letter in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, warning that the novel coronavirus uses the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to bind to their targets, meaning ACE inhibitors or angiontensin II type-1 receptor blockers (ARBs) may increase the severity and lethality of the illness. This included drugs like valsartan, Benicar, Cozaar and similar blood pressure medications.
This led to concerns about whether the drugs should be taken during the ongoing global pandemic. However, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 1, researchers with the New York University Grossman School of Medicine say they found no connection between any of the five different categories of hypertensive medication and increased COVID-19 adverse health effects
Researchers looked at data on nearly 12,600 patients tested for COVID-19, a little under half of whom tested positive. The researchers compared outcomes in patients who had been treated with the medications and those who had not.
Overall, about 17% of the patients suffered severe COVID-19 health effects. Of those taking the hypertension drugs, about 24% suffered severe symptoms. However, the researchers said the difference, less than 10%, was not statistically significant.
According to the findings, there was no association between the medications and the increased risk of a positive test or increased severity of the illness.
“We found no substantial increase in the likelihood of a positive test for Covid-19 or in the risk of severe Covid-19 among patients who tested positive in association with five common classes of antihypertensive medications,” the researchers concluded.
There are currently more than 1.1 million confirmed cases in the U.S., and more than 60,000 deaths as of May 4, according to various sources .
The FDA and the CDC, along with drug manufacturers, are continuing to work on expanding available healthcare facility COVID-19 test kits, while closely monitoring the spread of cases across the nation.