By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Patients with cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk for serious complications if they contract COVID-19. Thus, three leading cardiology groups this week recommended patients with heart disease, heart failure, and hypertension continue taking prescribed medications for those conditions if they contract the novel coronavirus, unless otherwise directed.

The American Heart Association (AHA), the Heart Failure Society of America, and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) jointly published a statement, calling out two drugs specifically: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-i) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

“We have reviewed the latest research. The evidence does not confirm the need to discontinue ACE-i or ARBs, and we strongly recommend all physicians to consider the individual needs of each patient before making any changes to ACE-i or ARB treatment regimens,” AHA President Robert A. Harrington, MD, FAHA, said.

“There are no experimental or clinical data demonstrating beneficial or adverse outcomes among COVID-19 patients using ACE-i or ARB medications. We urge urgent, additional research that can guide us to optimal care for the millions of people worldwide with cardiovascular disease and who may contract COVID-19. These recommendations will be adjusted as needed to correspond with the latest research,” ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, MD, added.

New data are emerging from China, where COVID-19 appeared first. Researchers have noted a higher fatality rate for patients with cardiovascular disease (10.5%) and hypertension (6%). They also observed serious cardiac damage in patients who died.

The AHA released another separate mission statement this week explaining in detail the role the group intends to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the group underlined the importance of observing social determinants of health, such as income, education, and geographic location, and how those determinants factor into who contracts the novel coronavirus.

“In the face of this crisis, we are likely to witness the dramatic ways in which social determinants affect outcomes to severe, acute illness. Countries and regions with fewer resources are likely to face higher mortality and morbidity than areas with greater access to care, particularly as increasing numbers of cases overwhelm local healthcare systems, as is already being seen in parts of Italy,” the group wrote. “Ultimately, the case fatality rate of the coronavirus is likely to be less a property of the virus or of individuals infected, and more a function of each healthcare system affected.”

Going a step further, the AHA indicated its readiness to “address aspects of health and well-being that may have traditionally fallen outside of cardiovascular research and practice,” citing two recently published position papers on healthcare reform and improving rural health access.

“Very importantly, this outbreak underscores the need to modernize our public health surveillance infrastructure with state-of-the-art, interoperable data systems, security to protect data, a workforce prepared for the information age, and partnership and innovation between the public and private sectors,” the group concluded. “The AHA will support efforts to make this modernization happen at the local, state, federal, and global levels. This will assure a robust public health infrastructure that can target focused and effective local, state, and national action to improve population health and well-being.”

Several current and upcoming issues of various Relias Media publications include in-depth coverage regarding how COVID-19 is affecting many practice areas. For even more updated breaking news about the pandemic, please keep checking in with ReliasMedia.com.