Phil Day By Superintendent Pharmacist Published:

Our charity partner, the British Heart Foundation, along with our Superintendent Pharmacist, answer your questions about medications and Covid-19 coronavirus, including whether you should still take your heart medicines, how to get hold of them and what to do if you can’t get out.

The BHF’s team of medical experts have answered some key concerns for those managing heart and circulatory disease.

Does taking heart medication increase my risk of catching coronavirus?

No. There have been media reports that taking certain blood pressure drugs could change the shape of a person’s cells, making it easier for them to catch coronavirus. These include ACE inhibitors and ARBs (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers). ACE inhibitors are medicines with names ending in -pril, and ARBs are medicines ending in -sartan.

These reports are based on speculation and there is no evidence to support them. We’d strongly advise people to continue taking all their medications unless advised differently by their doctor.

Could my blood pressure medication cause more severe coronavirus?

No, there is no evidence to support speculation that ACE inhibitors or ARBs increase the chance of a more severe case of Covid-19.

What is clear is that stopping your medication could be dangerous and could make your condition worse. It’s really important that you continue to take them as prescribed, unless you’re told differently by your doctor.

Should I stop taking my heart medication because of coronavirus?

No, unless you have been asked to by your doctor. Stopping your heart medication could make your condition worse and can raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

You should continue to take your medication as prescribed.

If you have had a heart transplant or you are immunosuppressed, it’s equally important to keep taking your immunosuppressants if you are prescribed them. 

If I catch coronavirus, should I still be taking my blood pressure medication?

Yes, you should continue with your medicines. If you are unwell because of Covid-19, your doctor may ask you to stop taking some heart medicines, such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics, just for a day or two whilst you are unwell.

This is particularly the case if you:

  • are feeling dizzy
  • are not eating or drinking as much as usual
  • have diarrhoea.

Only stop taking your medication if your doctor has asked you to do so. 

Phil Day, our Superintendent Pharmacist, offers some advice on managing your prescriptions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Should I get more medication in case mine runs out?

Fortunately, there are currently very few shortages of medicines for heart conditions as a result of coronavirus. The NHS has asked for patients to not order their medicines earlier than needed to help make sure there are enough medicines to go around.

People are urged not to stockpile medication for themselves or those they care for.

GP surgeries have been told not to issue repeat prescriptions sooner than they are due or for more than the usual amount.

If you take medication for your heart condition or other long-term conditions, the advice is to make sure you have enough to last two weeks, in case you and the people you live with need to self-isolate. 

Are pharmacies still open if I need medication?

Yes. Most pharmacies are open as normal, as the UK government classes them as an essential service.

This means you are still able to pick up medicines and health products for yourself and anyone you’re caring for.

How can I get my prescription if I am self-isolating or being shielded?

If you have a repeat prescription, online services like ours could help, as we can deliver your medicines directly to your door free of charge. 

Alternatively you can ask if someone else can pick up the prescription for you, from a community pharmacy. Ask them to drop it off outside your door, so you don’t have to make contact. 

Can pharmacies or GP surgeries deliver my prescription to my home?

Lots of pharmacies already offer a home delivery service.

However, you may need to ask a family member, friend or neighbour to collect your prescription for you as some pharmacies may be too busy at the moment to deliver your prescription in time.  There is a national volunteer service running at the moment; volunteers are able to help deliver medicines from pharmacies, as well as drive patients to appointments, bring them home from hospital, and make regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home. To get help, ask your pharmacy about this service, or call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).

If you have a repeat prescription that you normally request at your GP surgery or pharmacy, you may be able to order it online. As the UK’s first and biggest online pharmacy, we have been helping patients to manage their NHS repeat prescriptions remotely for over 20 years. We can help those patients who need a regular supply of medicine but have difficulty getting to the high street or are needing to self-isolate at this time.

Our service lets people order repeat prescriptions either online or through our app. We work with your GP to get your prescription and then dispense and deliver your medication for free, direct to your door. 

Find out more about our free service here.

You can find more information from the NHS on how to start using online health and prescription services here. 

Should I take aspirin or ibuprofen? 

Many people with heart and circulatory diseases take a daily low-dose aspirin, in a smaller dose than used as a painkiller. You should carry on taking it as normal.

There is no strong evidence that taking aspirin or ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse.

Paracetamol is the first choice of medicine to treat a fever caused by any infection, and is the best choice to treat Covid-19 symptoms. Ibuprofen can also be taken to relieve a fever and headache, if it’s otherwise safe and suitable for you. 

 

Keep up to date with the UK government’s advice on coronavirus.

If you or a loved one have a heart or circulatory condition and you are concerned how coronavirus might affect you, British Heart Foundation specialist cardiac nurses are there for you at this unsettling time –  just a phone call away. Call them on 0300 330 3311.