Coronavirus and High Blood Pressure: what's the Link?

It's important to be extra vigilant if you have high blood pressure. High blood pressure could increase your risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.

High blood pressure is a risk

Early data in both China and America shows that high bloodpressure is the most prevalent preexisting condition. It affects anywhere from 30% to 50%. Lung disease, cancer and diabetes are all other health issues. According to a report from Italy, more than 99 percent of those who died due to the virus were suffering from one of these conditions. 76% had high blood pressure.

Another study suggests that those with high blood pressure may be at greater risk for severe COVID illnesses and death.

Is there a link?

We don't know why high blood pressure people are more susceptible to coronavirus . Hypertension could have a relationship with the immune system. Your immune system becomes less capable of fighting off viruses when you age and have long-term conditions. Over 60% of those over 60 suffer from high blood pressure.

One possibility is that higher blood pressure may not be caused by high blood sugar, but because of certain drugs being used to treat the condition -- ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blocking agents (ARBs).

Research suggests that these medications may cause a decrease in immune cell function.

But other large studies found no ties between the use of these drugs and how severe COVID-19 is. Another study suggests they might make COVID-19 more severe. However, there is no evidence that they cause less severe disease.

These medications can make your heart or kidney disease more severe. This can increase your chance of dying.

American College of Cardiology (AACC) and American Heart Association both recommend you continue to take your blood pressure medicine exactly as it is prescribed. You should not stop taking your high blood pressure medication. This could increase your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.

Coronavirus and High Blood Pressure

Although pneumonia is most commonly associated with the virus, the virus can also cause damage to the heart.

Blood pressure is a problem that damages your arteries. It also reduces blood flow to the heart. This means that your heart must work harder in order to pump sufficient blood. This additional work over time can cause your heart weakness and make it less efficient at pumping oxygen-rich blood.

Coronavirus may also cause damage to the heart. This can happen if the condition is known as myocarditis. Coronavirus can cause myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), which reduces the ability for your heart to pump.

Plaque buildup can make it more likely that plaques will break down and lead to a heart attack. Past studies have shown that people with heart disease who get a respiratory illness like the flu or earlier types of coronavirus are at higher risk for a heart attack.

What should you do?

To prevent the coronavirus, everyone must take safety precautions. High blood pressure or other medical conditions should be taken extra seriously.

Here's some advice from the CDC