Hypertension emerges as Commonest Co-Morbidity Precipitating COVID Severity

Measure and control blood pressure, the silent killer, lest it conspires with COVID

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New Delhi: DR. Yugal K Mishra, Head of Cardiac Sciences, Manipal Hospital has red flagged people about blood pressure saying the silent killer has emerged as the commonest co-morbidity triggering COVID 19 severity. According to him, the theme of the World Hypertension Day ( May 17) this year – Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control it, Live Longer- has become very critical due to corona virus pandemic as it is itself a silent killer.

Dr Yugal Mishra further says, ‘Concerning COVID-19, several reports and data so far reveal that hypertension is the most common co-morbidity followed by diabetes and coronary heart disease. It is found that the most frequent co-morbidityy in patients with COVID-19 who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome were hypertension. According to a study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, one in three Indians suffers from hypertension. This indicates the severity and needs serious attention. The Wuhan (China) data reveals a 10.5% death rate among people with COVID-19 who also have cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for those with diabetes, 6.3% for those with respiratory disease, 6% for those with high blood pressure and 5.6% for those with cancer.

A study conducted by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) throws light on the link between COVID-19 infections and pre-existing medical conditions. It analysed the data of around 7,000 COVID19 patients and found that 71 per cent of those who were hospitalised with the infection and 78 per cent of those who were admitted to ICUs had underlying medical conditions. Data from a 191-patient study published in The Lancet found that 30 per cent of patients had hypertension, 19 per cent had diabetes, and 15 per cent had heart disease as underlying medical conditions. Elder people are the most vulnerable as hypertension is extensively prevalent among them. At a higher risk of being infected with the virus and of experiencing severe forms and complications of COVID-19, elderly needs to be extra careful.

India has already been facing a huge burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Now, with COVID-19- a highly communicable disease- dealing with dual disease burden has become the most challenging tasks for healthcare providers. Awareness and prevention would go a long way to deal with both NCDs and Communicable diseases. Hypertension is a chronic medical condition and commonly known as high blood pressure (HBP). In this condition, the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. With hypertension, the force of the blood against the artery walls goes too high. High blood pressure is a “silent killer.” One may not feel that something is wrong, but high blood pressure could be quietly causing severe damage that can threaten the health and even life. Almost all ages of individuals can be affected by hypertension ranging from children to young adults to old age group. However, several factors and variables can put you at greater risk for developing hypertension like Family history, age, gender, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, stress.

Even though we do not have enough evidence to correlate COVID-19 deaths with hypertension, however, it is a clinical fact that blood pressure control remains an important consideration to reduce disease burden, even if it has no effect on susceptibility to the viral infection.

Notwithstanding COVID-19, emergencies don’t stop and elderly people are always at high risk. Seniors with high blood pressure may be more susceptible to the coronavirus and more likely to develop more severe symptoms. Hence, they need guidance about keeping other conditions well-controlled and maintaining good health and hygiene. It is advisable to take prescribed angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-i) or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) medications for high blood pressure, heart failure or heart disease. These medications don’t increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. They are vital to maintaining blood pressure levels to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and worsening heart disease.

Hypertension patients are always at the risk of heart attack and stroke. In case of heart attack and stroke-like symptoms, every second matter. Quick access to medical treatment is the most important factor in saving lives.

Prevention & Care:  

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle- eat healthy, quit smoking, restrict alcohol intake, get adequate sleep and keep physically active
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine  
  • Physical activity should be strongly encouraged either in a home setting or outdoor areas with social space and will also improve well-being. Yoga & Breathing exercises are helpful 
  • Continue with prescribed medication for hypertension 
  • Keep follow-up appointments. Hospitals are offering Video Consultancy 
  • Seek medical help immediately if blood pressure goes high. Do not neglect it
  • In case of emergency, visit nearby hospital’s emergency room 

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