Recent media reports that ACE Inhibitor drugs (‘pril’ drugs, e.g., ramipril, lisinopril) and angiotensin receptor blockers (‘sartan’ drugs, e.g., candesartan, losartan) may increase the risk of death from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection will provoke anxiety for many people taking these medications.
Patients are prescribed these medications for a number of reasons and for some people, particularly those with heart failure, stopping the drugs suddenly can lead to them becoming unwell. This can cause people to become more breathless and may create uncertainty about whether symptoms are due to infection (such as COVID-19), or to underlying health problems.
The evidence that these medications increase the risk of death is currently unconvincing: the reports may simply reflect the fact that people taking the drugs are more likely to have conditions that place them at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
We therefore advise people taking these medications to continue to take them. If they become unwell such that they need to seek medical help, the doctor at this point may advise stopping the drugs depending on their individual clinical condition.
This guidance has been agreed by the British Cardiac Society, the British Society of Hypertension, European Society of Hypertension and the Renal Association and all currently advise patients should continue treatment with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers unless specifically advised to stop by their medical team.