COVID may contribute to high blood pressure.

COVID may contribute to high blood pressure.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Blood Pressure: Alarming Statistics and Concerning Risks


The Surprising Rise of High Blood Pressure among COVID-19 Patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges and health risks, one of which is a significantly increased risk of developing high blood pressure, even in individuals without any prior history of the condition. According to new research conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, COVID-19 patients face a markedly greater risk for developing persistently high blood pressure, even if they never had blood pressure concerns before.

The study, published in the journal Hypertension, examined the medical records of over 45,000 COVID-19 patients, comparing the increase in risk with influenza patients. The findings revealed that at an average of six months after initial infection, just over a fifth of patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 developed high blood pressure, despite no prior blood pressure problems. This figure fell to just below 11% among COVID-19 patients who were never hospitalized. In comparison, only about 16% of hospitalized influenza patients and just over 4% of non-hospitalized influenza patients developed persistent high blood pressure. These statistics are alarming, given the sheer number of people affected by COVID-19.

Uncovering the Mystery of COVID-19 and High Blood Pressure

The reasons behind why COVID-19 appears to drive up blood pressure are not yet fully understood. Senior study author, Tim Duong, speculates that the coronavirus might lead to overall dysfunction of heart health alongside specific dysregulation of blood pressure. An array of COVID-19-related issues might explain the escalating blood pressure, including psychological distress, plummeting activity levels, poor diet, kidney injury, respiratory problems, and widespread inflammation.

The Far-Reaching Implications of High Blood Pressure

The incidence of persistent hypertension (high blood pressure) in COVID-19 patients is unusually high and higher than that in flu patients, according to Tim Duong. This raises concerns about the impact on overall population health. Persistent high blood pressure was found to be more common among older adults, men, and patients with other preexisting conditions such as chronic kidney and coronary artery disease, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. High blood pressure is already responsible for about 13% of all deaths worldwide, and if COVID-19 drives up the risk, it stands to reason that the overall death risk will rise in tandem.

Addressing the Issue and Prioritizing Public Health

Given the seriousness of the situation, health systems worldwide need to strengthen and prioritize blood pressure screening before and after COVID-19. Treatment services should also be emphasized, which has not necessarily happened in the COVID-19 era. Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science and consultant cardiologist at the University College London, stresses the need for public health agencies to monitor long-term conditions associated with COVID-19, including high blood pressure. This monitoring is crucial for mitigating the increased risk of other cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes.

The Importance of Post-COVID Monitoring and Treatment

Dr. Davey Smith, head of infectious diseases and global public health at the University of California, San Diego, considers these findings as a harbinger of future COVID-19-related deaths. As a physician, he acknowledges the need to monitor patients for diabetes and hypertension after they recover from COVID-19 and to aggressively treat hypertension and diabetes when identified.

In light of these alarming statistics and concerning risks, it is imperative that individuals and healthcare providers remain vigilant. Blood pressure screening and continuous monitoring post-COVID-19 are crucial steps in managing and minimizing the impact of high blood pressure on individuals’ health and well-being.

Sources: – Tim Duong, PhD, vice chair, research, Department of Radiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y. – Amitava Banerjee, MA, MPH, DPhil, professor, clinical data science and honorary consultant cardiologist, Institute of Health Informatics, University College London, U.K. – Davey Smith, MD, MAS, head, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, and professor/vice chair, research, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. – Hypertension, Aug. 21, 2023