Among patients in China with COVID-19, researchers found that those with high blood pressure had twice the risk of death from the coronavirus compared with patients who didn't have high blood pressure.
And patients with high blood pressure who were not taking drugs to control it were at even higher risk, the findings showed. However, the study only found an association and could not prove cause-and-effect.
For the study, researchers in China and Ireland analyzed data on nearly 2,900 COVID-19 patients who entered one hospital in Wuhan, China, between Feb. 5 and March 15. Nearly 30 percent of these patients had a history of high blood pressure.
The analysis revealed that 4 percent of patients with high blood pressure died versus 1 percent of other patients, according to the report published June 5 in the European Heart Journal.
Among those not taking medication for their high blood pressure, 8 percent died. That compared with 3 percent of patients who were taking blood pressure medication.
The researchers, led by Fei Li and Ling Tao from Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, then pooled that data with data from three other studies involving 2,300 high blood pressure patients.
The investigators found that patients taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were less likely to die than patients on other blood pressure drugs. But the researchers stressed that due to the size of the study, this finding could be due to chance.
"It is important that patients with high blood pressure realize that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19," Li said in a journal news release. "They should take good care of themselves during this pandemic and they need more attention if they are infected with the coronavirus."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about high blood pressure.
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