We did a meta-analysis to assess the effect of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) in patients with COVID-19 on severity of disease, risk for hospitalisation, and death compared to those not on ACEi/ARB. We searched the Cochrane library, PubMed, Embase, ClinicalTrial.gov and medRxiv for studies published until 21.04.2020. Inclusion criteria included all studies with patients with confirmed COVID-19 either taking, or not taking, ACEi/ARB. Depending on degree of heterogeneity, fixed or random effect model was selected to calculate effect size (odds ratio).
Five studies were eligible for meta-analysis. These included 308 patients on ACEi/ARB, and 1172 not on ACEi/ARB. Compared to patients with COVID-19 not on ACEi/ARB, there was a statistically significant 44% reduction in odds of developing severe disease (OR: 0.56; 95% CI: 0.34-1.89, I2=68.15), and 62% reduction in odds of death (OR: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.19-0.74, I2=0.000) in those on ACEi/ARB. There was a non-significant 19% (OR 0.81; 95% CI: 0.42-1.55, I2: 0.000) reduction in odds of hospitalisation among those on ACEi/ARB.
It is safe to use ACEi/ARB in patients with COVID-19 requiring these medications for associated comorbidities. Although limited by confounding factors typical of a meta-analysis of retrospective observational studies, our data suggests that use of these medications may reduce risk of developing severe disease and death.
Editor’s note: ‘preprints’ are released prior to publication, and in many cases, prior to peer review.