Blood pressure medicines don’t raise COVID-19 risk

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Washington, May 2 ):Commonly used blood pressure medicines do not heighten susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, or increase the risk of becoming seriously ill with the disease, three major studies said Friday, positive news for the millions of people who take them.

                  The research primarily concerned angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), which are also given to diabetes patients to help protect their kidneys.

                  ACE inhibitors include the likes of ramipril, lisinopril and other drugs ending in -pril; while ARBs include valsartan and losartan, and generally end in -sartan.

                  There had been concern arising from animal studies that these medicines might increase the body’s levels of a protein called ACE2, which the coronavirus latches on to when it invades human cells, thus increasing people’s vulnerability to the disease.

                  Confusing matters further, there were also contradictory animal studies that showed having more ACE2 proteins might lessen an inflammatory reaction in lungs to COVID-19, a beneficial effect.

                  The three new studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

                  Each involved reviewing the records of thousands of people either on or not on the medicines and seeing if they got infected and how the disease progressed.