medRxiv 2020 Jun 12. Epub 2020 Jun 12.
Introduction: Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) could influence infection risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Observational studies to date lack pre-specification, transparency, rigorous ascertainment adjustment and international generalizability, with contradictory results.
Methods: Using electronic health records from Spain (SIDIAP) and the United States (Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Department of Veterans Affairs), we conducted a systematic cohort study with prevalent ACE, ARB, calcium channel blocker (CCB) and thiazide diuretic (THZ) use to determine relative risk of COVID-19 diagnosis and related hospitalization outcomes. The study addressed confounding through large-scale propensity score adjustment and negative control experiments.
Results: Following over 1.1 million antihypertensive users identified between November 2019 and January 2020, we observed no significant difference in relative COVID-19 diagnosis risk comparing ACE/ARB vs CCB/THZ monotherapy (hazard ratio: 0.98; 95% CI 0.84 - 1.14), nor any difference for mono/combination use (1.01; 0.90 - 1.15). ACE alone and ARB alone similarly showed no relative risk difference when compared to CCB/THZ monotherapy or mono/combination use. Directly comparing ACE vs. ARB demonstrated a moderately lower risk with ACE, non-significant for monotherapy (0.85; 0.69 - 1.05) and marginally significant for mono/combination users (0.88; 0.79 - 0.99). We observed, however, no significant difference between drug- classes for COVID-19 hospitalization or pneumonia risk across all comparisons.
Conclusion: There is no clinically significant increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis or hospitalization with ACE or ARB use. Users should not discontinue or change their treatment to avoid COVID-19.