Hypertension can increase risk of Covid

Phillip Schofield gets blood pressure checked in Istanbul in 1991

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The results of a study published in the journal Hypertension during the summer found that having high blood pressure more than doubles the risk of someone being hospitalised from COVID-19.

The research was led by the Smidt Heart Institute and the findings were reached by identifying 912 people who had been fully vaccinated at the time of the study.

Senior author of the study Doctor Susan Cheng said: “We were surprised to learn that many people who were hospitalised with COVID-19 had hypertension and no other risk factors.”

“This is concerning when you consider that almost half of American adults have high blood pressure.”

The research findings also revealed that kidney disease, previous experience of a heart attack, and/or heart failure also increased the risk of hospitalisation.

First author of the study Doctor Joseph Ebinger added: “The take-home message is that avoiding infection is extremely important — even when the circulating viral variant is presumed to cause mild disease in most people.

“These findings were expected considering that these are chronic medical conditions that are well established to be associated with worse outcomes.”

Overall, hypertension increased the risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 by 2.6 times.

Doctor Cheng added: “Uncovering why hypertension is linked to COVID-19 could help us better understand how SARS-CoV-2 affects the body and provide clearer targets for prevention and treatment.”

This research reflects what is a well-known fact about COVID-19, that it not only dramatically impacts the lungs, but the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system as well.

Writing about the effect of COVID-19 on the heart, the British Heart Foundation wrote: “Covid-19 can affect your heart and circulatory in many ways, including a faster heart rate and heart palpitations, blood clots, heart damage due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients, inflammation of the heart muscle and lining.”

They said it could also cause “Takotsubo syndrome”, also known as broken heart syndrome.

Furthermore, they added: “Many of the symptoms that people can experience are thought to be linked to the virus damaging endothelial cells (the cells which line all the blood vessels in our body).

The BHF also discussed the impact of a severe COVID-19 infection on the heart. They said: “If the Covid infection is severe enough that it damages the lungs, this can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart.

“As the virus and the immune response to it can also damage the cells that line the blood vessels, this can also cause clots in the blood vessels that supply the lungs and limiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart.

“This extra demand on the heart, paired with the lack of oxygen and nutrients, can cause damage to the heart muscle.

“We know that patients in hospital with severe cases of coronavirus who have heart muscle damage (as shown by blood tests) have a higher risk of dying.”

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