Study links hypertension with 22 percent rise in risk of severe Covid

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High blood pressure, known as hypertension, can be dangerous. A heart attack or stroke is more likely to occur if you have hypertension. Early on in the Coronavirus pandemic, it was recognised that high blood pressure was common among Covid patients that died or were hospitalised. New research has suggested that hypertension increases the risk of unvaccinated people dying or being hospitalised by 22 percent.

The study, published on November 9, looked at the health data of 16,000 people who tested positive for Covid between March 2020 and early 2021.

The database the researchers used was the UK Biobank, which contains huge amounts of detailed genetic and health information from half a million Brits.

The authors of the study also discovered that how much “control” people had over their hypertension mattered too.

In one part of their research, they looked at the GP records of the participants who had hypertension to see if their condition was out of control or in control with medication.

Holly Pavey, a PhD candidate of Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, and co-authors Carmel McEniery and Ian Wilkinson, also from Cambridge, wrote in The Conversation: “For people with poorly controlled blood pressure, we found the risk of severe Covid was almost double than among those who had a diagnosis of hypertension but whose blood pressure was under control.”

They added: “Thanks largely to effective vaccines and treatments, we’re seeing fewer people hospitalised and dying from Covid than earlier in the pandemic.

“Nonetheless, our research pinpoints high blood pressure as a significant risk factor for severe Covid, and shows that effective blood pressure control is important to reduce this risk.

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“Unfortunately, the rates of blood pressure control in the UK and more widely have worsened in the wake of the pandemic, as have the number of people being screened and identified as having high blood pressure in the first instance.

“This is now a major public health problem and needs to be addressed urgently.”

How do you know if you have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure usually isn’t noticeable. But even if you “feel fine”, you should get your blood checked, explains the British Heart Foundation.

However, in some cases, it can show symptoms including blurred vision, chest pain and dizziness.

The other symptoms, according to the BHF include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches

The health body says: “If you are aged 40–74 you can ask for an NHS health check in England only, but similar schemes are available in other parts of the UK.

“Your doctor should write to you every five years about this, but you can also just make an appointment to check your blood pressure.”

A large chunk of cases of high blood pressure is down to excessive salt consumption. Salt fills up your blood vessels with water, which puts extra pressure on them.

Cutting back on salt is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of hypertension. The NHS recommends consuming six grams of salt per day.

Avoiding foods high in salt, fats, and sugars can reduce your blood pressure too.

If you smoke, you should stop this. If you consume too much alcohol, you should try to cut back on it. If you find this difficult due to addiction, there are services available to help.

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