Use of Medicines for Hypertension, Heart Disease During COVID-19 Pandemic

01 April 2020

GMP News

EMA is aware of recent media reports and publications which question whether some medicines, for instance angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs, or sartan medicines), could worsen coronavirus disease (COVID-19). ACE inhibitors and ARBs are most commonly used for treating patients with high blood pressure, heart failure or kidney disease.

It is important that patients do not interrupt their treatment with ACE inhibitors or ARBs and there is no need to switch to other medicines. There is currently no evidence from clinical or epidemiological studies that establishes a link between ACE inhibitors or ARBs and the worsening of COVID-19. Experts in the treatment of heart and blood pressure disorders, including the European Society of Cardiology, have already issued statements along those lines.1 To gather more evidence, EMA is proactively reaching out to researchers working to generate further evidence in epidemiological studies.

The speculation that ACE-inhibitors or ARBs treatment can make infections worse in the context of COVID-19 is not supported by clinical evidence. These medicines work by affecting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Because the virus uses a target called angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is part of this system, to enter human cells, and the medicines can increase ACE2, one of the suggestions among others is that they could also increase virus activity. However, the interactions of the virus with the RAAS in the body are complex and not completely understood.

EMA is monitoring the situation closely and is collaborating with stakeholders to coordinate epidemiological studies on the effects of ACE inhibitors and ARBs in people with COVID-19.

It is important that patients who have any questions or are uncertain about their medicines speak to their doctor or pharmacist and do not stop their regular treatment without speaking to their healthcare professional first.

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