Explained: Study finds link between high BP and Covid-19 death risk

Paramedic James Hansford looks on during the treatment of a patient who has previously tested positive for the coronavirus disease, after responding to a 999 call in Portsmouth Britain

Paramedic James Hansford looks on during the treatment of a patient who has previously tested positive for the coronavirus disease, after responding to a 999 call in Portsmouth Britain

Now, a team of German researchers at the University of Kiel scouring the human genome to pinpoint bits of DNA that may predispose people to serious COVID-19 have found a common genetic root shared by many of these patients and those with Type A blood.

The findings, published in The Lancet, also showed that the patients with hypertension who didn't take medication for the condition had a 2.17-fold increased risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to those who were taking medication.

But those taking any type of medicine to control their blood pressure had a significantly lower risk of death from COVID-19 than those not treated for their hypertension in the study of almost 2,900 patients admitted in February and March to Huo Shen Shan Hospital in Wuhan, China - the original epicenter of the pandemic.

Almost 30 percent - 850 patients - had a history of hypertension, another term for high blood pressure.

Contrary to their expectations, they found that a class of drugs known as RAAS inhibitors - which include angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) - were not linked to higher COVID-19 mortality. Other, non-RAAS inhibiting drugs used for treating high blood pressure include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) or diuretics.

However, the study authors caution that as the number of patients in this analysis was small, it could be due to chance.

A study has found a link between risks for experiencing a severe COVID-19 infection and a person's blood type.

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"We suggest that patients should not discontinue or change their usual anti-hypertensive treatment unless instructed by a physician", said co-author Ling Tao, a professor at Xijing Hospital.

The researchers point out that it is too early to make clinical recommendations based on what they have observed in the hospital, and that further randomized controlled clinical trials are needed to investigate further.

The team, which was looking into the human genome to identify bits of DNA that could make people more vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus, found a common genetic root shared by COVID-19 patients who have Type A blood.

"These data should be interpreted cautiously".

As this is a retrospective, observational study, it can not show a causal relationship between RAAS inhibitors and the risk of dying from COVID-19.

[2] "Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system blockers and the risk of COVID-19", by Giuseppe Mancia et al.

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