Covid-19 and high blood pressure: Is there a link between them?

It is no secret that Covid-19 has turned the entire world upside down. What was considered to be a phase has not only continued to exist but also intensified in magnitude over the last 1.5 years.

The viral disease has multiple symptoms and its effects may vary amongst different patients. Amongst the many uncertainties associated with this illness lies the question that: “Can Covid-19 cause high blood pressure?”

A study conducted with a sample of 5,700 hospitalized patients in the US revealed that 56% of them suffered from hypertension. Similar results were observed in other countries such as Italy and China.

However, these results do not necessarily mean that high blood pressure is an aftermath of Covid-19. The reason being that elderly are more at risk to contract Covid-19 and its side effects are also more severe amongst them. Therefore, it is no surprise that the median age of hospitalized patients was 63 years.

Generally, when we grow older we tend to develop various health issues such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, and chronic kidney disease. It is difficult to deduce whether the high blood pressure condition observed amongst all patients was a coincidence or a consequence of either age or prevailing health conditions.

Given the fact that more than 50% of the adult population in the US suffers from high blood pressure and the prevalence of this condition is directly proportional to age, the alternate can also be true: i.e. blood pressure is one of the factors that increase the risk of contracting Covid-19.

What can be the possible link between hypertension and Covid-19?

Patients of hypertension are at an increased risk of suffering from heart diseases and strokes. They also have higher chances of kidney failure. Consequently, they have a weakened immune system. This may ultimately increase their chances of contracting all infectious diseases including Covid-19.

Another view that is presented by many experts is that hypertensive individuals may be at increased risk during the pandemic, not because of their prevailing health condition but because of the medicines used to regulate high blood pressure. These medicines; namely ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are believed to increase the level of ACE2 enzyme in our bodies. Since the virus causing Covid-19 essentially needs to attach with this particular enzyme in order to be able to infect our cells, these drugs are considered to be indirectly responsible for causing Covid-19.

In view of these concerns, some clinicians advise hypertension patients to discontinue the use of their medical drugs. However, no evidence has been found that doing so would reduce the chances of contracting Covid-19. In fact, many small-scale studies cited in a research paper by the American College of Cardiology revealed that no link was observed between the use of hypertensive drugs and severe Covid-19 cases.

Thus, there is no point in ceasing the use of blood pressure-regulating medicines. If anything, doing so would result in increased chances of a heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure – the consequences of which might also be fatal.

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Why is Covid-19 more dangerous for patients with high blood pressure?

Hypertension causes damage to the arteries responsible for managing flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Consequently, there is a greater strain on the heart. This ultimately results in weakening it to an extent where it cannot pump the same level of oxygen-rich blood as before.

On the other hand, heart damage may also be caused by Covid-19. This has been acknowledged by credible institutions like John Hopkins Medicine.

If a hypertensive person gets infected with the SARS-CoV-2, the virus will further damage the heart which has already been weakened as a result of high blood pressure. Covid-19 may also result in myocarditis; an inflammation of the heart muscles. This increases the difficulty faced by the heart in pumping blood. For patients with atherosclerosis, the coronavirus may have far more serious consequences as it can cause the fatty deposits in arteries to break down which may result in a heart attack.

This explains why Covid-19 can be more dangerous for blood pressure patients.

We hope that by now you have got the answer to your question: Can Covid cause high blood pressure?

Well, lack of any evidence proving otherwise leads us to deduce that Covid-19 probably does not cause high blood pressure. However, high blood pressure itself is a risk factor that increases the chances of contracting the coronavirus. Therefore, hypertension patients need to be much more careful in the ongoing pandemic. Following are the expert recommendations that patients should abide by:

  1. Take blood pressure medicines regularly.
  2. Monitoring their blood pressure regularly.
  3. Keeping themselves hydrated.
  4. Getting involved in a physical activity

Along with the above-mentioned recommendations that are specific to people with hypertension, it is imperative that people must also follow the general precautionary measures such as keeping a distance of about 6 feet between themselves and others, wearing a mask and ensuring they do not touch their face, especially without washing their hands.

What do we conclude?

  • Up till now, there is no evidence proving that Covid-19 can cause high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure might not be the cause of Covid-19 but does increase the risk of contracting it. The reason is not the prescribed medicines, but reduced immunity.
  • The coronavirus can be exceptionally harmful to those who already suffer from high blood pressure. Therefore people with hypertension, especially those over 60 years of age, must take extreme precautions and follow the expert advice in order to stay safe.