Should You Keep Taking Your Blood Pressure Meds?

Hauke-Christian Dittrich/DPA via ZUMA

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Like millions of other middle-aged guys, I have high blood pressure. This is a problem:

Scientists are baffled by how the coronavirus attacks the body — killing many patients while barely affecting others. But some are tantalized by a clue: A disproportionate number of patients hospitalized by COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have high blood pressure….An April 8 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 72% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients 65 or older had hypertension.

Luckily for me, my hypertension is well controlled using a small dose of an ACE inhibitor called Zestril. So I should be in pretty—

Researchers agree that [hypertension] drugs affect the same pathways that the novel coronavirus takes to enter the lungs and heart. They differ on whether those drugs open the door to the virus or protect against it….The drugs are known as ACE inhibitors and ARBs, broad categories that include Vasotec, Valsartan, Irbesartan, as well as their generic versions. In a recent interview with a medical journal, Anthony Fauci — the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert — cited a report showing similarly high rates of hypertension among COVID-19 patients who died in Italy and suggested the medicines, rather than the underlying condition, may act as an accelerant for the virus.

Well, that’s just great. Option 1: Hypertension makes the coronavirus more deadly, so take your meds! Option 2: No, it’s the meds that make the coronavirus more deadly, so stop taking them right away!

I would like someone to figure this out very quickly. Thank you.

UPDATE: A couple of studies out of China suggest that hypertension really is at fault, not hypertension drugs. More here.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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