People who are taking an ACE inhibitor or an ARB drug for heart problems should stay at home and not meet up with people, say researchers from Louisiana State University.
Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a UK GP, estimates that people taking one of the drugs are four times more likely to die from the virus.
The drugs also increase the chances of catching the virus in the first place. ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors in particular increase the receptors around the lungs that the corona virus also binds to.
Many taking the medication are elderly and are being treated for cardiovascular diseases including a heart attack, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) are also prescribed to reduce blood pressure levels.
Reports about 1,099 COVID-19 patients in China discovered that most were also suffering from hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes and renal disease, all health problems that likely were being treated with one of the drugs.
Similar reports have been coming out of Italy, where an estimated 52 percent of COVID fatalities were also taking an ACE inhibitor.
It would also explain why children don't seem to be infected by the virus: they have fewer ACE receptors in their lower respiratory tracts, say the Louisiana researchers.