Blood pressure and diabetes WARNING: How medications could be contributing to high COVID-19 death rates
(NaturalHealth365) As current reported COVID-19 cases top 1.3 million in the United States, the pandemic has claimed the lives of over 78,000 Americans. What the media is not emphasizing is how conditions like, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease increase the risk of death. Now, researchers are wondering if high blood pressure medications can raise risk as well.
In a disturbing new article published in the British journal The Lancet, a team of international researchers pondered whether the very medications used to treat chronic conditions could promote infection, and lead to negative COVID-19 outcomes.
Health ALERT: How high blood pressure is linked to deadly COVID-19 complications
The researchers, from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and University Hospital Basel of Switzerland, examined various studies to evaluate the mortality rates and the incidence of underlying conditions in patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
In one study of 52 intensive care unit patients with COVID-19, the 32 non-survivors were more likely than survivors to have cerebrovascular diseases and diabetes. In another study of 1,099 participants published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that among the 173 with the most severe disease, over 23 percent had diabetes and over 16 percent had coronary heart disease.
Yet another study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated 5700 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and revealed that 57 percent had high blood pressure, 41 percent were obese and over a third had diabetes.
The studies seem to carry a disturbing implication. Not only can having diabetes and high blood pressure increase the likelihood of severe consequences, the scientists theorized, but it may make you more likely to be infected in the first place.
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Could ACE inhibitor-type blood pressure medications be contributing to high mortality rates?
Frequently-occurring underlying conditions found in older COVID-19 patients – such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes – are often treated with ACE inhibitors. These medications suppress the production of a specific hormone known as angiotensin-converting enzyme, thereby lowering blood pressure by encouraging blood vessels to relax and remain open.
Examples of ACE inhibitors include lisonopril (Zestril), captopril (Capoten) and benazepril (Lotensin).
The prospective bad news about these popular medications
Being treated with ACE inhibitors actually increases production of a protein called ACE enzyme 2, which is found in the epithelial cells of the lung, kidneys, intestines and blood vessels. Unfortunately, it is also used by coronaviruses to bind to target cells.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, scientists think that ACE2 could serve as a “gateway” for COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2) to enter the body and infect the cells. The researchers hypothesized that treating high blood pressure and diabetes with ACE2-stimulating drugs “increases the risk of developing severe and fatal COVID-19,” and called for patients treated with ACE2-modulating drugs to be carefully monitored.
By the way, ACE2 can also be increased by the common anti-inflammatory medication ibuprofen (Advil).
Unpredictable enemy: COVID-19 symptoms can vary
The researchers advised that people over 65 years old with underlying conditions act with extra caution to avoid contracting COVID-19. Observe physical distancing as needed, make sure to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and call your physician if you have new or unusual symptoms or have been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, trouble breathing, dry cough, headache, severe fatigue and impaired sense of taste or smell. While less common, symptoms of headaches and digestive problems can also occur.
But, some symptoms may be absent. For example, one study showed that only 33 percent of COVID-19 patients had fever at the time of their admission to the hospital. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and life-threatening – and may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure. Be advised: it is possible to have no symptoms and still spread the disease.
Focus on improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels naturally
Of course, you should never eliminate or reduce prescribed medications unless advised to do so by your doctor. However, you may want to discuss the possibility of switching to a different type of medication.
The authors of the Lancet article reported that calcium channel blockers, another group of blood pressure medications, did not appear to raise ACE2 – and could serve as a “suitable alternative treatment.”
In some cases, natural techniques can help to reduce high blood sugar, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and other unhealthy conditions.
These simple lifestyle steps can include getting sufficient exercise, maintaining healthy weight and eating an organic diet high in antioxidant – and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and healthy fats such as those found in avocados, wild-caught salmon and coconut oil.
In addition, the importance of avoiding processed, high-sodium and sugar-laden foods can’t be overstated.
Note: The case against ACE inhibitors isn’t “set in stone.” As of this writing, a brand-new study in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to clear ACE inhibitors of responsibility for the spread of COVID-19. So, no doubt, this subject will continue to be a source of controversy for some time.
As the worst pandemic in 100 years continues to wreak havoc all around the globe, there has probably never been a better time to address health problems, improve well-being and support a strong immune system.
Editor’s note: Click here to get access to the Immune Defense Summit to discover the best ways to reduce your risk of bacterial and viral infections – naturally.
Sources for this article include: