The ICMR has advised against taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and recommended taking paracetamol, if needed, as some painkillers Ibuprofen are found to worsen Covid-19, and may increase the risk of kidney damage.
While preparing the lists of a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for patients with hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases, the ICMR said that currently there is no evidence that BP medications, comprising two groups of drugs ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), have increased the susceptibility or severity of Covid-19.
“After the review of available information, the consensus of various scientific societies and expert group of cardiologists is that currently there is no evidence that the two group of drugs — ACE inhibitors (eg. Ramipril, Enalapril and so on) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) (eg. Losartan, Telmisartan and so on) increase the susceptibility or severity of Covid-19,” said the apex health research body, over reports of BP medications increasing the severity of the disease.
“These drugs are very effective for heart failure by supporting heart function and controlling high blood pressure. It is harmful to stop these medications by yourself. This can worsen your heart condition,” the ICMR said.
On whether patients with heart disease, diabetes or hypertension are at an increased risk to get the infection, ICMR said, “No, people with hypertension, diabetes or heart diseases are at no greater risk of getting the infection than anyone else.”
However, it is said that the majority of people (80 percent) are diagnosed with Covid-19 will have mild symptoms of a respiratory infection (fever, sore throat, cough) and make full recovery. Meanwhile, some people with diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases, including heart failure (weak heart) can develop more serve symptoms and other serious complications, therefore adding extra care is advised to such patients.
On whether people with diabetes are more prone to Covid-19, the ICMR said that in general, people with uncontrolled diabetes are at an increased risk of all kinds of infections.
Hence, it is advised by the ICMR for following a diet and exercise routine (to the extent possible), taking medications regularly and testing sugar levels frequently so as to keep diabetes under control.
It noted, when a diabetic patient falls sick, they may require frequent monitoring of blood glucose and adjustment of drugs, including insulin, small frequent meals and adequate fluids. Therefore, all medications must be taken properly and regularly by these patients even if you have mild symptoms, said the ICMR.
“Don’t stop any medication unless advised by your doctor. Continue with your blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease medications in case you are unable to visit your doctor. Medications to control cholesterol (statins) should be continued,” it stated.
It is also important to control risk factor levels, the ICMR said, adding avoid smoking and alcohol, have BP and blood sugar levels under control and have some form of regular physical activity keeping in mind social distancing norms.
Follow the diet and salt restriction as advised. If a person is non-vegetarian, she can continue to be so, it said. Increasing fibre and protein content of the diet and including more vegetables and fruits is advisable, the ICMR said.
It advised people to wear a medical mask in crowded areas and in poorly ventilated rooms, making it a routine part of being around other people.
“Wear a mask if a visitor comes to your home who is not a member of your household. Clean your hands before and after using a mask, and before touching it while still in use. Change the mask if it is soiled or wet, and dispose it properly in a trash bin,” the document said.