CHICAGO (CBS) — Northwestern University advised Wednesday that there is no current evidence that drugs to control blood pressure worsen COVID-19 infections.
Northwestern said while some animal studies show a class of drugs increases a receptor for COVID-19, the university said, “for now, there is no rationale to continue these critically important medications.”
The university said pharmacists, the medical community, and many patients have expressed concern that widely-used drugs called RAS blockers – which are used for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetic kidney disease – could increase the risk of a severe and fatal coronavirus infection.
But an editorial published Wednesday in the journal “Hypertension” reported there is no current cause for concern, Northwestern said.
“There is no existing evidence that the effect of these drugs has caused worsening of COVID-19,” co-author Daniel Batlle, the Earle, del Greco, Levin Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine nephrologist, said in a news release. “The answer will come as more data from the studies in patients accrue over the next weeks or months, but for now there is no reason to stop these medications.”
The university did note that some animal studies have noted RAS blockers increase the protein ACE-2, or angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, which is the receptor for the novel coronavirus to enter the body.
Still, Battle said in the release, “We wanted to reassure the medical community, patients and pharmacists that for now there is no rationale to discontinue medications that are critically important in the treatment of hypertension, diabetic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.”
RAS blockers consist of ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. They block the actions of a peptide that narrows the blood vessels and causes fluid retention by the kidneys, which in turn increases blood pressure.
The effect of the drugs is to help blood vessels relax and expand and decrease fluid retention, both of which have an effect of lowering blood pressure.
“The beneficial effects of these medications clearly outweigh any unproven risks in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, and there is no reason to abandon their use. Our view is shared by many medical societies including the American Heart Association and the American Society of Nephrology,” Batlle said in the release.