High Blood Pressure and Coronavirus

Posted in: COVID-19, Employee Benefits

By now we known that people with any type of immunocompromised condition are more likely to contract, suffer symptoms, and even die from COVID-19 than healthy individuals. If you have Hypertension (otherwise known as high blood pressure), which is a fairly common condition in the U.S., your COVID-19 risks are significantly increased.

The Connection

You may be wondering what a cardiovascular condition has to do with an increased risk of contracting a virus. While the most common complication associated with COVID-19 is pneumonia, the virus can also cause myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle. If your heart and blood vessels are always working overtime due to high blood pressure, this kind of long-term stress on the body weakens those organs and your immune system. A weakened immune system, no matter the cause, decreases your body’s ability to fight off infections and thus, makes you more susceptible to contracting viruses such as COVID-19.

High blood pressure is no laughing matter. If not treated and controlled, this long-term damage becomes quite serious. According to the CDC, hypertension contributes to or causes around half a million deaths annually and approximately 100 million adults experience high blood pressure in the U.S.

The elderly population is already at a higher risk of contracting and suffering from COVID-19 simply because their bodies and immune systems are slowing down. You are also at a higher risk for high blood pressure the older you get, so this (or any other immunocompromising condition) compounds on the risk an average elderly person already faces.

Hypertension Medications

Aside from the physical connection between hypertension and a weakened immune system, some researchers are speculating about the possible impact of ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used to treat high blood pressure on your risk for contracting COVID-19. Thus far, no results have proven a link between taking these medicines and an increased risk for the virus. In fact, reliable sources such as the American Heart Association, the CDC, and The American College of Cardiology recommend the continued adherence to any prescribed blood pressure medicine, as the potential results of stopping increases risk for other serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

Prevention

The CDC has published preventive measures everyone should take to decrease the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. These guidelines are universally applicable; however, the CDC and the American Heart Association provide more specific guidance for those with underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, including the below.

  • Don’t stop taking your prescription medication unless your doctor advises you to do so.
  • Stock up on prescriptions (90-day supplies and mail order options) as well as over-the-counter medicines to treat a fever and other symptoms if you get sick. Ask your doctor which would be best for you.
  • Seek emergency care for your condition immediately if problems arise.
  • Contact your primary care provider with any questions or concerns about your condition or COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Avoid certain medications, alcohol, caffeine, and other high blood pressure hazards.

Vaccines

While a coronavirus vaccine isn’t currently available, staying up-to-date on your other vaccines, such as the pneumococcal vaccine, can protect you against other conditions exacerbated by coronavirus. Also, get a flu vaccine. Since the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, ruling out the flu could help doctors to diagnose you if you do get sick. As soon as a coronavirus vaccine is available, discuss with your doctor and follow his/her advice.

PSA is here to support our clients as we all strive to return to work. If you have questions about the content of this blog, feel free to contact me at dherndon@psafinancial.com. Please also visit our COVID-19 Business Resources for relevant updates and educational materials regarding the pandemic.

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