The Dilemma of Coronavirus Disease 2019, Aging, and Cardiovascular Disease: Insights From Cardiovascular Aging Science | Cardiology | JAMA Cardiology | JAMA Network
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April 3, 2020

The Dilemma of Coronavirus Disease 2019, Aging, and Cardiovascular Disease: Insights From Cardiovascular Aging Science

Author Affiliations
  • 1Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Divisions of Cardiology and Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):747-748. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1329

As we brace for the imminent impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we are faced with a controversy on how to best minimize the risk of lethal disease among the most vulnerable of us. Preliminary epidemiological data show an uneven-handed impact on the population, with an exponential increase in disease severity and mortality in those beyond the sixth decade of life with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes. Given that angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), an enzyme coopted by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to enter epithelial cells, is upregulated in patients with CVD and diabetes treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), it was proposed that this increase in ACE2 expression underpins the greater COVID-19 severity in this population. This has created substantial controversy regarding the approach to patients taking ACEIs/ARBs in preparation for the pandemic, with some advocating for discontinuing these medications while expert opinions recommended against discontinuation, given the lack of strong evidence.1

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