Covid-19, what seemed like a harmless infection turned into a magnanimous life-threatening disease that quickly shaped up into a pandemic causing millions of people to lose their lives across the world. The world suffered at the hands of a pandemic which paved the way for a lot of newfound diseases and health conditions.
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: “Is high blood pressure a symptom of COVID?”
Well, is it even possible, can a virus 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 after Covid rises in the person or by any chance is caused by it. The reason is 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 but is high blood pressure a symptom of Covid 19? The simple one-word answer is NO! It increases the risk of COVID as the immunity is already weak because of hypertension, but it is not a sign of coronavirus.
What is normal blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure is typically defined as a systolic pressure (top number) of less than 120 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure (bottom number) of less than 80 mm Hg. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is expressed as two numbers. The first number represents the systolic pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood. The second number represents the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats.
Blood pressure can vary based on various factors, such as age, gender, health status, and lifestyle habits not necessarily due to COVID. However, in general, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg or lower is considered normal. A blood pressure reading between 120/80 mm Hg and 129/80 mm Hg is considered elevated or borderline high, while a reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure (hypertension).
It is important to note that high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Therefore, it is essential to have regular blood pressure checks and to take steps to manage blood pressure levels within a healthy range through lifestyle changes or medication, if necessary.
What can be the possible link between hypertension and Covid-19?
Hypertension patients are at an increased risk of heart disease 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 many experts present 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 to this particular enzyme in order to be able to infect our cells, these drugs are considered to be indirectly responsible for causing Covid-19.
Because of these concerns, some clinicians advise hypertension patients to discontinue using their medical drugs, which makes them question whether COVID causes blood pressure spikes. This can be somewhat true as COVID damages the immune system severely, making the patient vulnerable to attacks by all kinds of diseases and infections. If a person is already a patient with hypertension, there is a fair chance that the blood pressure might spike after covid-19.
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 no link 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.
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 must be much more careful during the pandemic. Following are the expert recommendations that patients should abide by:
- Take blood pressure medicines regularly.
- Monitoring their blood pressure regularly.
- Keeping themselves hydrated.
- 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.
5 ways to reduce your blood pressure
There are several ways to reduce blood pressure, including:
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase blood pressure. Losing weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise can help lower blood pressure.
Eating a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products can help lower blood pressure. Reducing salt intake can also help lower blood pressure
Getting regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure by strengthening the heart and improving blood flow. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
Limiting alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure. Men should limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day, and women should limit their intake to no more than one drink per day.
Managing stress: Chronic stress can raise blood pressure. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help lower blood pressure.
It is important to note that lifestyle changes may take time to show results, and medication may be necessary to control high blood pressure in some cases. Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for managing blood pressure.
- Until now, no evidence has proven that COVID 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, must take extreme precautions and follow expert advice to stay safe.