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expert reaction to study looking at link between high blood pressure and risk of dying from COVID-19

Research, published in the European Heart Journal, looked at the link between high blood pressure and risk of dying from COVID-19.


Prof Angela Clerk, professor of biomedical sciences at the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, University of Reading, said:

“This paper suggests that high blood pressure increases the death rate in COVID-19 patients, consistent with other published studies.

“The authors suggest patients who were treated for high blood pressure had reduced risk of death compared with untreated patients. Confusingly, the blood pressure of Covid-19 patients appears similar irrespective of treatment, and the difference in blood pressure with or without a history of high blood pressure is not large.   Thus, any effect of the drugs may not be directly associated with a moderating effect on blood pressure.  The paper does not directly demonstrate a beneficial effect of the drugs, but they do not appear to increase the death rate, an important factor given early reports that they were harmful.

“There are confounding factors.  Patients with prior history of high blood pressure were significantly older, many with other health problems including diabetes or stroke.  It is difficult to separate the effects of these other factors, but the study (along with others) supports the concept that elevated blood pressure should be taken into consideration when treating COVID-19 patients.  The future prospective studies that are planned will be essential in establishing exactly what the implications are.”


Prof Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, said:

“I don’t think journalists should read too much into this suggestion – there may well be a link but study design and its power were both limited so that this study does not allow us to gain much insight into potential direct effect of high blood pressure on the risk of dying from COVID-19.”



‘Association of hypertension and antihypertensive treatment with COVID-19 mortality: a retrospective observational study’ by Chao Gaoet al. was published in European Heart Journal at 00.05UK time on Friday 5th June 2020.

DOI: doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa433


Declared interests

None received


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