High blood pressure doubles risk of death from coronavirus, study finds

Mason Boycott-Owen
A nurse feeds water to a patient in the isolation ward for coronavirus patients at a hospital in Wuhan - CHINATOPIX/AP
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People with high blood pressure are twice as likely to die from coronavirus than those without, a Wuhan study suggests.

Researchers found that patients with the condition at Huo Shen Shan hospital in Wuhan were more likely to die of the disease.

They found that those who avoided taking medication for the condition were at even greater risk of dying from Covid-19.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, shows that four per cent of patients with hypertension and coronavirus died compared to 1.1 per cent without high blood pressure.

After taking into account factors that could affect the results, such as age, sex and other medical conditions, they found that this more than doubled the patient’s risk of dying of Covid-19.

Underlying conditions and deaths coronavirus

“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realise that they are at increased risk of dying from Covid-19. They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus,” said Professor Fei Li.

But people with high blood pressure and not on treatment were at even greater risk, the researchers found. 

“In addition, there were 140 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 who had discontinued their anti-hypertensive treatment due to various reasons. We found that this was associated with a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus.

“Therefore, we suggest that patients should not discontinue or change their usual anti-hypertensive treatment unless instructed by a physician.”

Last year NHS data from the Health Survey for England found that high blood pressure was rising in adults in the UK.

Some 26 per cent of women had the condition comparedto 30 per cent of men. Two thirds of men 75 or over have some form of hypertension.

Research from the British Heart Foundation found as many as four million people under the age of 65 are living with untreated high blood pressure.

The researchers in China had initially suspected that medication used to treat high blood pressure could increase susceptibility to infection, but the results showed that this was not the case.

Excess Deaths - England, Wales, Scotland & N.I.

Professor Ling Tao from Xijing Hospital, said that: “Soon after we started to treat Covid-19 patients in early February in Wuhan, we noticed that nearly half of the patients who died had high blood pressure, which was a much higher percentage compared to those with only mild Covid-19 symptoms.

"At the same time, some researchers were raising concerns that RAAS inhibitors [drugs to treat high blood pressure] might be facilitating the entry of the coronavirus into cells and making people more susceptible to the disease.

“We were quite surprised that these results did not support our initial hypothesis; in fact, the results were in the opposite direction, with a trend in favour of ACE inhibitors and ARBs. 

"We think this is exactly why practice based on clinical evidence is more vital than ever.”

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