Use of RAAS inhibitors and risk of clinical deterioration in COVID-19: results from an Italian cohort of 133 hypertensives

Am J Hypertens. 2020 Jun 8;hpaa096. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpaa096. Online ahead of print.


Background: The effect of chronic use of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors on the severity of COVID-19 infection is still unclear in patients with hypertension. We aimed to investigate the association between chronic use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) and COVID-19 related outcomes in hypertensive patients.

Methods: A single center study was conducted on 133 consecutive hypertensive subjects presenting to the Emergency Department with acute respiratory symptoms and/or fever who were diagnosed with COVID-19 infection between 9th and 31st March 2020.

Results: All patients were grouped according to their chronic antihypertensive medications (ACEIs, N=40; ARBs, N=42; not on RAAS inhibitors, N=51). There was no statistical difference between ACEIs and ARBs groups in terms of hospital admission rate, oxygen therapy and need for non-invasive ventilation. Patients chronically treated with RAAS inhibitors showed a significantly lower rate of admission to semi-intensive/intensive care units, when compared to the non-RAAS population (odds ratio [OR] 0.25, CI95% 0.09-0.66 p=0.006). Similarly, the risk of mortality was lower in the former group, although not reaching statistical significance (OR 0.56, CI95% 0.17-1.83, p=0.341).

Conclusions: Our data suggest that chronic use of RAAS inhibitors does not negatively affect clinical course of COVID-19 in hypertensive patients. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding and determine whether RAAS inhibitors may have a protective effect on COVID 19-related morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: ACEIs/ARBs; COVID-19 infection; SARS-COV-2; hypertensive patients; mortality.