Skip to main content

Doctors warn against discontinuing blood pressure medicines during COVID19

By Rajeev Khanna*
Amid the COVID19 outbreak in India, it is the exceptionally large community of high blood pressure or hypertension patients that stands out among the most vulnerable. Medical experts say that the number of hypertension patients in the country is more than 30 per cent of the total population.
They have emphatically underlined that these patients cannot afford non-compliance with the prescribed treatment for hypertension as it will further strain the healthcare systems already stretched to full capacity by the ongoing pandemic.
According to a spokesperson of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh:
“Hypertensive patients are at the highest risk of becoming dangerously sick or dying due to corona virus, experts have warned. Even as the medical fraternity rushes to put in place effective and credible treatment protocols to curb the global pandemic, some recent studies have suggested that ACE inhibitors ( class of medication used primarily for the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure) and ARBs ( first-line antihypertensives) commonly used to treat blood pressure could aggravate the symptoms of COVID19 infection.
“Clearing the air on the matter, global public health experts and medical practitioners from premier institutions across the country have emphatically stated that it is too early to draw such conclusions and non-adherence to treatment could be dangerous.”

Dr Yash Paul Sharma, who is heading the Department of Cardiology at PGIMER said people with hypertension are indeed at a higher risk of catching the corona virus. Citing a recent systematic review and meta-analysis that appeared in ‘International Journal of Infectious Diseases’ that assessed the prevalence of co-morbidities in COVID19 infected patients, Dr Sharma observed that hypertensive patients with the underlying disease were more at risk in severe cases as compared to non-severe patients.
He added that COVID19 patients had a fatality rate of 8.4%, 13.2%, 9.2%, 8% and 7.6% in those with hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, respectively. “As such, avoiding blood pressure medications is a big risk that we in India cannot afford to have as our healthcare systems are already stretched because of the COVID19 spread,” he stressed.
Dr Sonu Goel of Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health at the same institute highlighted the need of monitoring other risk factors such as tobacco use.
The PGIMER spokesperson went on to quote Dr Tom Frieden of Resolve to Save Lives which is an initiative of global public health organization Vital Strategies saying that evidence from around the world shows that people with hypertension should not forego their regular medicines. According to Dr Frieden:
“As we respond to the COVID19 pandemic, we need to protect and provide care for the most vulnerable among us, including people living with cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. People with hypertension and other chronic disease are more likely to become seriously ill and die from the virus. That’s why it’s more urgent than ever that people in India and around the world can access the medication they need, either through telemedicine, multiple month prescriptions or other safe methods.” The spokesperson said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued special warnings to safeguard those with chronic health conditions. A recent report in the "China Daily" stated that 50 percent of the 170 patients, who died in Wuhan in January, had hypertension or other non-communicable diseases. 
China Daily reports, 50% of 170 patients who died in Wuhan in January had hypertension and other non-communicable diseases
Although such claims are yet to be clinically substantiated, a WHO-China joint mission on the COVID19 outbreak has revealed similar findings. Top doctors from Wuhan, the ground zero of COVID19 have also corroborated that almost 50% of those dying from the disease were hypertensive.
The PGIMER spokesperson further quoted Prof Suneela Garg of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine saying:
“Globally there are firm protocols in place that have been tested and are followed to treat hypertension. These depend on the age of the person, duration of being hypertensive and existence of co-morbidities, to name some. The current guideline being followed by physicians and practitioners across the globe is to continue hypertensive medications even while being treated for corona virus led infection.
“Hypertensive persons are best advised, in addition to their blood pressure medication, to follow non-pharmacological approaches such as taking up yoga, stress management and low calorie intake to keep their blood pressure levels under check.” Dr Tiny Nair who is another well-known cardiologist based at Thiruvananthapuram has stated that five prominent societies including European Society of Hypertension (ESH), European Society of Cardiology Council of Hypertension, Hypertension Canada, Renal Association UK, and Canadian Cardiovascular Society have independently announced that there is no data to withhold the important medicines for patients of hypertension in the background of emergence of COVID19.
He underlined, “For those millions of people of hypertension, controlled on these medicines, stopping blood pressure drugs on unfounded fear might create a far more dangerous situation than COVID itself.”
---
*Senior journalist based in Chandigarh and Solan (Himachal Pradesh)

Comments

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

Barbaric, inhuman attack on Odisha villagers to implement JSW project: NGO networks

Counterview Desk  A “solidarity statement" issued by three top civil society networks, Friends of the Earth India (FoE India), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has asked the Odisha chief minister to ensure that the “inhumane barbaric attack on the villagers of Dhinkia, Odisha” in order to implement a corporate project.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."