High blood pressure linked to mortality risk from COVID-19


Patients with high blood pressure have a two-fold increased risk of dying from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) compared to patients without high blood pressure, according to new research published in the European Heart Journal. In addition, the study found that patients with high blood pressure who were not taking medication to control the condition were at even greater risk of dying from COVID-19.

For the study, researchers in China and Ireland analyzed data from 2,866 patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to Huo Shen Shan hospital in Wuhan, China, between February 5 and March 15. The hospital was opened on February 5 exclusively to treat coronavirus patients. Of these patients, 29.5 percent had a medical history of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.

The researchers found that 4 percent of patients with hypertension and COVID-19 died compared to 1.1 percent of patients without hypertension, a 2.12-fold increased risk after adjustment for factors that could affect the results, such as age, sex, and other medical conditions.

Among the patients with hypertension who were not taking medication for the condition, 7.9 percent died from COVID-19 compared to 3.2 percent of those who were taking medication, a 2.17-fold increased risk after adjusting for confounding factors.

In a meta-analysis, the researchers pooled the data from the Huo Shen Wan patients with data from nearly 2,300 patients in three other studies to investigate the death rates in patients being treated with drugs to control blood pressure levels by targeting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). These drugs include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Other, non-RAAS inhibiting drugs used for treating high blood pressure include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) or diuretics.

They found a lower risk of death among the 183 patients treated with RAAS inhibitors than in 527 patients treated with other drugs. However, the researchers say this result should be treated with caution as the number of patients in this analysis was small and so it could be due to chance.

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