This research arrives while the safety of using ACE inhibitors during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been called into question. Some medical professionals believe that ACE inhibitors actually increase the chance of dying from COVID-19, because ACE inhibitors reduce the number of ACE receptors on the cells, which severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 uses as an “access key,” allowing the virus to enter the cells. The more access keys there are, the more easily the virus can access the cells, according to the study.
The study examined the mortality rates of 500,000 Danish patients admitted to hospitals with influenza and pneumonia between 2005 and 2018. A little more than 100,000 of those patients were taking ACE inhibitors or ARBs, according to the study authors. Data were collected using the National Patient Register, which is used in Danish hospitals, and the Danish Register of Medicinal Products.
The study found that patients using ACE inhibitors or ARBs had a lower rate of requiring mechanical ventilation and a lower mortality rates than other patients who took another type of blood pressure medication.
“We haven’t examined whether what applies to patients with influenza and pneumonia can be transferred directly to patients with COVID-19, but there is some evidence to suggest that ACE inhibitors have a protective effect against lung damage which we don’t see in patients who take other types of medicine to lower blood pressure,” said researcher Christian Fynbo Christiansen, PhD, in the press release. “The first studies find no correlation between ACE inhibitors/(ARBs) and COVID-19. However, further studies are needed using the good Danish registers.”
Users of blood pressure medicine have a lower risk of dying from influenza and pneumonia [News Release] October 2, 2020; Aarhus, Denmark. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/au-uob100220.php. Accessed October 5, 2020.