Recent observational studies of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs, also called sartans) have not shown an effect of these medicines on the risk of becoming infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (the virus causing COVID-19) and do not indicate a negative impact on the outcome for patients with COVID-19 disease, the European Medicines Agency said.
EMA therefore reiterates its previous advice that patients should continue to use ACE inhibitors or ARBs as advised by their doctors. Patients with questions or concerns about their treatment should consult a healthcare professional.
ACE inhibitors and ARBs are used for treating patients with high blood pressure, heart problems or kidney disease. In April 2020, media outlets and publications raised concerns about the effects of these medicines in patients with COVID-19. As part of the ongoing monitoring of the safety of medicines, 16 recently published studies on the use of ACE inhibitors and ARBs during the COVID-19 pandemic were reviewed and showed that these concerns are not supported by the latest clinical evidence.
EMA and the EU regulatory network will continue monitoring available and emerging data on the use of medicines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is working with other regulators and relevant European and international organisations to provide reliable advice on the safe use of medicines. Further information on recommendations about COVID-19 is available on EMA’s website and the websites of national competent authorities.
This public health statement has been issued by the COVID-19 EMA pandemic Task Force (COVID-ETF).
More about the medicines
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are medicines used to treat patients with high blood pressure, heart problems and other conditions. They have active ingredients whose names generally end in “pril”. ACE inhibitors prevent an enzyme in the body from producing angiotensin II, a hormone that narrows blood vessels. This narrowing can cause high blood pressure and force the heart to work harder. Angiotensin II also releases other hormones that raise blood pressure.
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs, also known as angiotensin-II-receptor antagonists or sartans) are used to treat patients with high blood pressure and those with certain heart or kidney diseases and complications such as diabetic nephropathy. They also work by blocking the action of angiotensin II, preventing blood vessels from constricting so that blood pressure does not rise.