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Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and COVID-19-related outcomes: A patient-level analysis of the PCORnet blood pressure control lab


SARS-CoV-2 accesses host cells via angiotensin-converting enzyme-2, which is also affected by commonly used angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), raising concerns that ACEI or ARB exposure may portend differential COVID-19 outcomes. In parallel cohort studies of outpatient and inpatient COVID-19-diagnosed adults with hypertension, we assessed associations between antihypertensive exposure (ACEI/ARB vs. non-ACEI/ARB antihypertensives, as well as between ACEI- vs. ARB) at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, using electronic health record data from PCORnet health systems. The primary outcomes were all-cause hospitalization or death (outpatient cohort) or all-cause death (inpatient), analyzed via Cox regression weighted by inverse probability of treatment weights. From February 2020 through December 9, 2020, 11,246 patients (3477 person-years) and 2200 patients (777 person-years) were included from 17 health systems in outpatient and inpatient cohorts, respectively. There were 1015 all-cause hospitalization or deaths in the outpatient cohort (incidence, 29.2 events per 100 person-years), with no significant difference by ACEI/ARB use (adjusted HR 1.01; 95% CI 0.88, 1.15). In the inpatient cohort, there were 218 all-cause deaths (incidence, 28.1 per 100 person-years) and ACEI/ARB exposure was associated with reduced death (adjusted HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.57, 0.99). ACEI, versus ARB exposure, was associated with higher risk of hospitalization in the outpatient cohort, but no difference in all-cause death in either cohort. There was no evidence of effect modification across pre-specified baseline characteristics. Our results suggest ACEI and ARB exposure have no detrimental effect on hospitalizations and may reduce death among hypertensive patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

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