Aims: The SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor for cell entry. It has been suggested that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB), which are commonly used in patients with hypertension or diabetes and may raise tissue ACE2 levels, could increase the risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
Methods and results: We evaluated this hypothesis in a consecutive cohort of 1200 acute inpatients with COVID-19 at two hospitals with a multi-ethnic catchment population in London (UK). The mean age was 68 ± 17 years (57% male) and 74% of patients had at least one comorbidity. Overall, 415 patients (34.6%) reached the primary endpoint of death or transfer to a critical care unit for organ support within 21 days of symptom onset. A total of 399 patients (33.3%) were taking ACEi or ARB. Patients on ACEi/ARB were significantly older and had more comorbidities. The odds ratio for the primary endpoint in patients on ACEi and ARB, after adjustment for age, sex and co-morbidities, was 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.47-0.84, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: There was no evidence for increased severity of COVID-19 in hospitalised patients on chronic treatment with ACEi or ARB. A trend towards a beneficial effect of ACEi/ARB requires further evaluation in larger meta-analyses and randomised clinical trials.
Keywords: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors; COVID-19; Disease outcome; Hypertension.
© 2020 The Authors. European Journal of Heart Failure published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society of Cardiology.