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Anti-hypertensive Angiotensin II receptor blockers associated to mitigation of disease severity in elderly COVID-19 patients

By Yingxia Liu, Fengming Huang, Jun Xu, Penghui Yang, Yuhao Qin, Mengli Cao, Zhaoqin Wang, Xiaohe Li, Shaogeng Zhang, Lu Ye, Jingjun Lv, Jie Wei, Tuxiu Xie, Hong Gao, Kai-Feng Xu, Fusheng Wang, Lei Liu, Chengyu Jiang

Posted 27 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.20.20039586

BackgroundThe novel coronavirus (CoV) severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2 outbreak started at the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China, and spread over 100 countries. SARS-CoV-2 uses the membrane protein Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2(ACE2) as a cell entry receptor. Indeed, it was reported that the balance of Renin-Angiotensin System (RAS), regulated by both ACE and ACE2, was altered in COVID-19 patients. It is controversial, however, whether commonly used anti-hypertensive drugs Angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) and Angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) shall be continued in the confirmed COVID-19 patients. This study was designed to investigate any difference in disease severity between COVID-19 patients with hypertension comorbidity. The included COVID-19 patients used ACEI, ARB, calcium channel blockers (CCB), beta blockers (BB), or thiazide to treat preexisting hypertension prior to the hospital were compared to patients who did not take any of those drugs. MethodsIn this multicentre retrospective study, clinical data of 511 COVID-19 patients were analyzed. Patients were categorized into six sub-groups of hypertension comorbidity based on treatment using one of anti-hypertension drugs (ACEI, ARB, CCB, BB, thiazide), or none. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the use of ACEI and ARB associated with pneumonia using published studies. FindingsAmong the elderly (age>65) COVID-19 patients with hypertension comorbidity, the risk of COVID-19-S (severe disease) was significantly decreased in patients who took ARB drugs prior to hospitalization compared to patients who took no drugs (OR=0{middle dot}343, 95% CI 0{middle dot}128-0{middle dot}916, p=0{middle dot}025). The meta-analysis showed that ARB use has positive effects associated with morbidity and mortality of pneumonia. InterpretationElderly (age>65) COVID-19 patients with hypertension comorbidity who are taking ARB anti-hypertension drugs may be less likely to develop severe lung disease compared to patients who take no anti-hypertension drugs. FundingNational Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before this studyC_ST_ABSWe searched PubMed for articles published up to March 15, 2020 using keywords "2019-nCoV", "SARS-CoV-2", "novel coronavirus", and COVID-19 AND "ARB", and "angiotensin II receptor blocker" for papers published in both English and Chinese. We found three papers: one from our group, published in Science China Life Science that demonstrated an elevated Angiotensin II level in blood samples from COVID-19 patients; another a perspective article in Chinese recommending ACEI and ARBs as potential remedies for SARS-CoV-2 infections; the third a retrospective study in Chinese identifying no significant difference between ACEI/ARB associated with outcomes in 112 COVID-19 patients with CVD comorbidity. The International society of Hypertension stated on March 16th, 2020: "there are no clinical data in human to show that ACE-inhibitors or ARBs either improve or worsen susceptibility to COVID-19 infection nor do they affect the outcomes of those infected". Added value of this studyWe retrospectively reviewed different types of anti-hypertensive drugs taken by COVID-19 patients with hypertension comorbidity prior to entering the hospital. We discovered that ARB hypertensive drugs were associated with a decreased risk of severe disease in elderly (age>65) COVID-19 patients (OR=0{middle dot}343, 95% CI 0{middle dot}128-0{middle dot}916, p=0{middle dot}025), the first evidence of ARBs association to COVID-19 infections in human. We conducted a meta-analysis in the literature and found that ARB has positive effects associated with morbidity and mortality of pneumonia. Implications of all the available evidenceARB drugs are widely used in the population with hypertension. Treatments with ACEI and ARBs should be continuous according to medical guidelines. RCT trials of ARB associated with morbidity and mortality of SARS-CoV-2 infection are recommended in the future.

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