Study Finds Seniors with COVID-19 Taking Hypertension Medication at Lower Risk of Hospitalization, Clinical Trial to Follow Immediately

May 19, 2020
  • A UnitedHealth Group and Yale School of Medicine study clears the way for clinical trials that could improve care and treatment for a vulnerable population

A study completed by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) with the Yale School of Medicine found that older COVID-19 patients with hypertension taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors had a lower risk of COVID-19 hospitalization. A pragmatic clinical trial will be a critical next step.

The study, which was recently submitted for peer-reviewed publication, analyzed retrospective data from about 10,000 patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 who were enrolled in Medicare Advantage or commercially insured plans, and had a prescription for one or more anti-hypertensive medications. The use of ACE inhibitors was associated with an almost 40% lower risk of COVID-19 hospitalization for Medicare Advantage patients. A younger, commercially insured group did not have the same result. Use of the medication was not found to reduce mortality risk in individuals once hospitalized with COVID-19.

“While not yet actionable, these findings provide an impetus to test whether this common, inexpensive class of drugs can mitigate the impact of the virus,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, the Harold H. Hines, Jr. professor of medicine at Yale and the director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research.

The findings of this analysis clear a path for a pragmatic, large-scale clinical research trial to examine the potential role of ACE inhibitors in preventing the severe consequences of COVID-19. The large-scale research trial led by UnitedHealth Group and Yale School of Medicine will adopt an innovative, modern approach as one of the first virtual COVID-19 clinical trials to be launched at scale with a suite of digital tools.

“The results from this study offer critical new insights that can help accelerate clinical trials on ACEs to inform appropriate hypertension treatments for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, executive vice president, Global Research & Development for UnitedHealth Group. “We are hopeful this information will help clinicians, health care researchers and industry leaders work together to validate these findings and possibly reduce the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19.”

To learn more about this forthcoming research trial and how to participate, visit

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.