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Patients Urged to Continue Blood Pressure and Heart Failure Medications Amid Coronavirus Concerns

CardioSmart News

The American College of Cardiology along with the American Heart Association and Heart Failure Society of America issued a joint statement March 17 to address concerns about the coronavirus and a group of drugs called renin angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) antagonists, which are often given to patients with high blood pressure or heart failure (“HFSA/ACC/AHA Statement Addresses Concerns Re: Using RAAS Antagonists in COVID-19”). Here are key takeaways from the statement that patients and their loved ones should know.

If you take medicine to lower your blood pressure or to treat heart failure, including angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), it’s important to continue taking it. Stopping your medication or even skipping a dose may cause problems. 

As part of treatment, patients with high blood pressure or heart failure are frequently given RAAS antagonist drugs. These medications include ACE inhibitors (for example, enalapril or lisinopril), ARBs (for example, losartan or valsartan), and a combination drug called an angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor or ARNI (sacubitril/valsartan). They lower blood pressure, reduce strain on your heart, and improve blood flow by relaxing your blood vessels. 

The site of action for these drugs also appears to be the means by which coronavirus disease 2019, also called COVID-19, enters the human body.

In the HFSA/ACC/AHA statement, experts stress there is no clinical data showing that ACE inhibitors or ARBs have an effect—good or bad—on COVID-19 in people, or in patients with COVID-19 and heart disease. 

Therefore, the experts recommend that patients who have been taking these medicines to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, or ischemic heart disease (a condition like coronary artery disease in which blood flow is limited to the heart), continue to do so. 

People with heart disease appear to have a higher chance of getting COVID-19. In addition, if heart patients do come down with the viral disease, they have a higher chance of severe illness and complications.  

Please stay on your medications. As always, remember to talk to your health care team before changing your medication or treatment. Continue to turn to CardioSmart and ACC for updates as more is learned about how the coronavirus affects heart patients. 

Read the full statement: “HFSA/ACC/AHA Statement Addresses Concerns Re: Using RAAS Antagonists in COVID-19,” March 17, 2020. Learn about CardioSmart's editorial process. Information provided for educational purposes only. Please talk to your health care professional about your specific needs.