Considerations on the use of antihypertensive blockers of the renin-angiotensin system in adults and children in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

Edmundo Vázquez-Cornejo, Unidad de Apoyo al Predictamen, Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez, Mexico City, Mexico

As severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected patients with hypertension and other cardiovascular comorbidities develop more severe coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 and are at high risk of death, a controversy arose about the use of antihypertensives as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEis) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). Such drugs might increase the expression of the fundamental receptor of this new infectious agent: the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Preclinical observations indicate that the increase of ACE2 expression or the activity by ACEis and ARBs leads to a greater transformation of angiotensin (Ang)-II to Ang-(1-7), which is associated with positive effects on cardiovascular and pulmonary pathophysiology. This association has been demonstrated in observational studies in patients with cardiovascular pathology and pneumonia. It has not been possible to confirm whether users of ACEis or ARBs are more infected by the new coronavirus, due to methodological issues in studies with patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, the use of such antihypertensive treatments in both children and adults might reduce the virulence of infection. Therefore, changes in the antihypertensive therapy of patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 are not recommended.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease-19. Antihypertensive agents. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 enzyme. Ang I (1-7). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Pediatrics.