Background: The role of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) susceptibility, severity, and treatment is unclear.
Purpose: To evaluate, on an ongoing basis, whether use of ACEIs or ARBs either increases risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection or is associated with worse COVID-19 disease outcomes, and to assess the efficacy of these medications for COVID-19 treatment.
Data sources: MEDLINE (Ovid) and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from 2003 to 4 May 2020, with planned ongoing surveillance for 1 year; the World Health Organization database of COVID-19 publications and medRxiv.org through 17 April 2020; and ClinicalTrials.gov to 24 April 2020, with planned ongoing surveillance.
Study selection: Observational studies and trials in adults that examined associations and effects of ACEIs or ARBs on risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease severity and mortality.
Data extraction: Single-reviewer abstraction confirmed by another reviewer, independent evaluation by 2 reviewers of study quality, and collective assessment of certainty of evidence.
Data synthesis: Two retrospective cohort studies found that ACEI and ARB use was not associated with a higher likelihood of receiving a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result, and 1 case-control study found no association with COVID-19 illness in a large community (moderate-certainty evidence). Fourteen observational studies, involving a total of 23 565 adults with COVID-19, showed consistent evidence that neither medication was associated with more severe COVID-19 illness (high-certainty evidence). Four registered randomized trials plan to evaluate ACEIs and ARBs for treatment of COVID-19.
Limitation: Half the studies were small and did not adjust for important confounding variables.
Conclusion: High-certainty evidence suggests that ACEI or ARB use is not associated with more severe COVID-19 disease, and moderate-certainty evidence suggests no association between use of these medications and positive SARS-CoV-2 test results among symptomatic patients. Whether these medications increase the risk for mild or asymptomatic disease or are beneficial in COVID-19 treatment remains uncertain.
Primary funding source: None. (PROSPERO: registration number pending).