COVID-19 Pandemic Linked to Rise in Blood Pressure
The COVID-19 protective measures have changed the way people behave. A recent study addresses how these changes affect one’s blood pressure. The results suggest a rise in blood pressure during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period.
High blood pressure, so-called hypertension, may increase the risk of heart disease or a stroke and impair the brain’s function, the eyes, and the liver. Reportedly, around 47% of US adults suffer from hypertension. Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels can be achieved by practicing a low-sodium diet, consuming large amounts of vegetables and fruits, and restricting alcohol consumption.
The researchers compared the blood pressure levels of 464,585 participants two years before the pandemic to the levels recorded during the quarantine period. The results showed no major changes before the pandemic concerning blood pressure. Nevertheless, there was an increase in the participants’ diastolic and systolic blood pressure each month during the pandemic. On average, this increase was more evident in women.
Dr. Luke Laffin, the study’s lead author, believes that changes in eating habits, immoderate use of alcoholic beverages, insufficient physical exercise, and irregular intake of blood pressure medications can lead to a rise in blood pressure. Moreover, many people have significantly changed their lifestyle habits and had restricted access to medical care, leading to elevated blood pressure.
An increase in blood pressure can be caused by other non-pandemic factors, such as a worse financial situation, lack of exercise, and gaining weight. Also, anxiety, stress, and sleeping disorders play a major role, harming cardiovascular health and blood pressure. In addition to the indirect factors, increased blood pressure may be caused by direct factors like the disease itself and vaccines.
Scientists believe that long COVID is also linked to hypertension. Nevertheless, more research is needed to fill the gaps of this study. One of the study’s downsides is the failure to examine the changes in blood pressure based on race or ethnicity since it is known that Black people are more likely to suffer from hypertension. This is one of the essential points that need further investigation.
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