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Is Hypertension a COVID-19 risk factor?

High blood pressure (Hypertension) is a highly prevalent condition all over the world and with the growing rate of COVID-19 pandemic, patients with hypertension are indicated to be more susceptible to the viral infection. Click To Tweet Over the last month, medical researchers have published several papers on almost every aspect of the disease and an early study that investigated 41 patients in Wuhan, China, found that 32% positive patients had underlying health conditions — most commonly, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Another study in JAMA Internal Medicine followed 201 COVID-19 patients where 84 patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Out of these 84, only 27.4% had hypertension. A recent article of the American Journal of Hypertension reported the effect of COVID-19 on hypertension and no adequate data was found to support the claim clinically. Although hypertension is regarded as a risk factor for the new coronavirus disease, the data is mostly epidemiological-evidence based and there is no firm evidence that hypertension drugs will increase a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19. Hypertension is a very frequent disorder in the elderly and older people appear to be more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. This correlation has led to believe mostly that high blood pressure or hypertension is a potential risk for the viral infection.

How to manage Hypertension medication?

For hypertension patients, doctors prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). These interrupt ACE2 receptor activity and it has been reported that SARS-CoV-2 binds to ACE2 receptors to facilitate its entry in human body cells. In some research, it was seen that ACE inhibitors can increase the number of ACE2 receptors even after blocking. This means that the binding of SARS-CoV-2 to the body cells might increase. But in most research, data indicate that ACE2 can protect against severe lung injury. Thus hypertension drugs can reduce the chance of ARDS development which makes a person COVID-19-prone. Although hypothetically, soluble ACE2 can be used as a therapy, researchers have not tested these approaches in people and no data is present to support the claim.

Apart from these concerns, official organizations like Heart Failure Society of America, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association have recommended the continuation of hypertension drugs for patients who have been prescribed for heart failure or hypertension.

3 Tips for Hypertension patients during self-quarantine

  1. Take medical advice on over-the-counter & prescription medications

Common pain medicines (NSAIDs) can increase your blood pressure and patients with hypertension should try to avoid such medications by availing them over-the-counter without proper medical advice. Moreover, patients taking prescribed medication for neuro-disorders, corticosteroids, or immunosuppressants should often monitor their blood pressure to keep it in check. Besides these, herbs and natural remedies should also be kept limited unless advised by medical experts.

  1. Avoid Smoking, Caffeine, and Alcohol 

People should limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol as these are known to increase blood pressure. A lower dose of caffeine is not generally harmful but patients with high blood pressure should avoid even lower dosage. Smoking is also known to cause a rise in blood pressure and thus should be avoided.

  1. Connect with health care providers

Patients and caregivers should be connected well with their medication provider and doctors as emergency situations can arise anytime and they should be prepared either by stocking up medical supplies or by keeping doctors at speed dial. Virtual doctor-patient appointments are being practiced widely nowadays.

 

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