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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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