Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System Inhibitors and COVID-19: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review

Cureus. 2021 Feb 4;13(2):e13124. doi: 10.7759/cureus.13124.


Introduction Increased virulence, the severity of illness, and mortality have all been hypothesized with respect to angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEi)/angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) use in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Our study aims to assess whether ACEi/ARB use in patients with COVID-19 conferred worsened severity of illness or increased mortality. Additionally, we explore the possibility of an unearthed protective benefit due to their interruption of the RAS signaling pathway as observed in cardiovascular diseases. Methods The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and EMBASE were searched for studies relevant to COVID-19 severity, mortality, and inflammation in the context of ACEi/ARB use. Eight studies were included with a total of 17,943 patients, 4,292 (23.9%) of which were taking an ACEi or an ARB. The study population was 47.9% female and the average age across all studies was 65. The studies chosen had a sample size of at least 100 patients. Results Mortality outcomes were assessed in six studies and showed no significant difference in mortality among the ACEi/ARB and control groups (odds ratio [OR]: 0.99, 95%CI: 0.48-2.04). Seven studies assessed the severity of COVID-19 and showed no statistically significant difference in disease severity when comparing the ACEi/ARB group to the control group (odds ratio [OR]: 1.30, 95% CI 0.87-1.94). Four studies reported the length of stay with no significant difference between the ACEi/ARB groups as compared to non-users. Four studies included inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and D-Dimer, which were noted to be consistently lower in the ACEi/ARB groups when compared to control groups, however, this was not statistically significant. Conclusion Our study found no significant difference in mortality, severity of illness, or length of stay between ACEi/ARB users and non-users with COVID-19 infection. These results support the continuation of ACEi and ARBs in the setting of COVID-19 as advised by the American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA). The decrease in CRP and D-dimer suggests a possible protective effect related to ACEi/ARB use in COVID-19, however, more studies with larger sample sizes are needed to establish this effect.

Keywords: cardiovascular prevention; covid 19; hypertension in the global context; microcirculation and inflammation.