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Drugs that are in regular use in the long-term care population for treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular issues have been linked to lower odds of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Patients taking these medications are also less likely to face severe COVID-19 outcomes, investigators say.

The large study, from the National Institutes of Health, analyzed Medicare Part D claims data of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 compared with a cohort who were not infected. Patients had a lower risk (by 12%) of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalization and death if they were current users of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) or angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARB) for high blood pressure, statins (for cholesterol), and warfarin and newer classes of blood thinners. There was also a lower risk of these outcomes of 6% for those taking antiplatelet drugs. 

But there was no link found between COVID-19 outcomes and use of famotidine (for gastrointestinal issues) and hydroxychloroquine (used for lupus, arthritis and other autoinflammatory conditions), the researchers added.

The study supports a number of recommendations from clinician groups and the World Health Organization, including guidance that ACEIs and ARBs be continued in COVID-19 patients, they wrote. These results also “strongly support the current advice about the use of anti-clotting drugs in COVID-19 patients,” they noted. The benefits of statins, meanwhile, may be linked to their antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, they added. 

Results were controlled for age, gender, race, socio-economic, geographic factors and comorbidities. 

Full findings, including additional theories as to why these drugs may reduce COVID-19 risk, were published in PLOS One.

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