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In Journal of Korean medical science

BACKGROUND : There is a controversy whether it is safe to continue renin-angiotensin system blockers in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We analyzed big data to investigate whether angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and/or angiotensin II receptor blockers have any significant effect on the risk of COVID-19. Population-based cohort study was conducted based on the prescription data from nationwide health insurance records.

METHODS : We investigated the 1,374,381 residents aged ≥ 40 years living in Daegu, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, between February and March 2020. Prescriptions of antihypertensive medication during the year before the outbreak were extracted from the National Health Insurance Service registry. Medications were categorized by types and stratified by the medication possession ratios (MPRs) of antihypertensive medications after controlling for the potential confounders. The risk of COVID-19 was estimated using a difference in difference analysis.

RESULTS : Females, older individuals, low-income earners, and recently hospitalized patients had a higher risk of infection. Patients with higher MPRs of antihypertensive medications had a consistently lower risk of COVID-19 than those with lower MPRs of antihypertensive medications and non-users. Among patients who showed complete compliance, there was a significantly lower risk of COVID-19 for those prescribed angiotensin II receptor blockers (relative risk [RR], 0.751; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.587-0.960) or calcium channel blockers (RR, 0.768; 95% CI, 0.601-0.980).

CONCLUSION : Renin-angiotensin system blockers or other antihypertensive medications do not increase the risk of COVID-19. Patients should not stop antihypertensive medications, including renin-angiotensin system blockers, because of concerns of COVID-19.

Kim Jaiyong, Kim Dong Wook, Kim Kwang Il, Kim Hong Bin, Kim Jong Hun, Lee Yong Gab, Byeon Kyeong Hyang, Cheong Hae Kwan


Antihypertensive Medication, Big Data, Cohort Study, Coronavirus Disease 2019, Risk Assessment