Hypertension is a chronic condition that affects the whole body. Although COVID-19 is a primarily respiratory condition, having pre-existing diseases like hypertension can worsen its impact.
Among the studies on COVID – 19 patients in – China and Italy – the countries worst hit by it, show that most of the patients who suffered fatalities had other comorbidities. Other studies specifically showed how high blood pressure has caused fatalities in these countries. With the prevalence of hypertension in India, it is important that the patients in the nation pay attention to the existing condition and do all that is in their power to prevent contracting COVID-19.
Keep reading to know why hypertension patients are at more risk for COVID-19 fatalities, and what they can do to ensure their continued well-being.
COVID-19, Hypertension And The Available Statistics
For those living with hypertension, their weakened immunity is a factor that makes them susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and experiencing a fatal infection. With nearly two-thirds of the people being hypertensive, it is a worthy topic to further analyze. As data continues to emerge from the countries that were hit worse by COVID-19, doctors are continuously learning and adjusting their treatment plans for hypertensive patients.
There is also a lot of contemporary discussion regarding certain hypertension medication and the impact it may have on the patients. Hypertension medicines such as ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin receptor blockers further weaken their immunity. Both these medicines increase the quantity of enzyme ACE2, which the COVID-19 virus utilizes in a host body. While this is an important factor, it’s not easy to expect patients to stop these medications. These are life-saving medicines, and stopping these abruptly may make heart and kidney conditions worse.
Between the need to manage the impact of hypertension on other organ systems and preventing the contraction of COVID-19, doctors and patients are caught in a disease management conundrum.
When considering the available statistics, it is said that higher rates of hypertension was seen among the severely ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients. But these numbers are also skewed towards the elderly population who have a higher chance of high blood pressure. So the question arises whether it is the patient’s hypertension that made them suffer fatalities, or if their age was the deciding factor.
How COVID-19 Impacts Hypertension Patients
When we say that hypertension weakens your immunity, what it implies is that the elevated blood can damage the arteries in the body and reduces the blood flow. In cases like this, the heart has to work extra hard to get oxygen-rich blood to the whole body. COVID-19 is proven to damage the heart and this will be even more fatal when it is already weakened due to hypertension.
While pneumonia or respiratory illnesses are usually how COVID-19 manifests, in cases like these, the virus can potentially cause inflammation in the heart muscles or even cause a heart attack. So hypertensive patients and their doctors must take all the necessary steps to ensure that their existing condition is managed properly and prevent contracting the COVID-19 infection.
What Can Hypertensive Patients Do To Protect Themselves?
With all the conflicting information that is emerging from various hospitals and research groups, hypertensive patients and their doctors have to take smart calls on how best to stay healthy during the pandemic. The following are some conclusive steps to take:
- Continue taking your medication: Even though the internet and the emerging statistics may make you question staying on the medicines, make sure you talk to your doctor first. Most doctors would recommend staying on the medicines and taking additional steps to prevent COVID-19, rather than going off them.
- Stock up on medicines: Talking about your medicines, ensure that you stock up on your medication to prevent venturing out, or be caught without your next dose. This shouldn’t be limited to your hypertension medication – stock upon medicines for any other chronic ailments you may have and even potential allergies or fever.
- Get started with self-monitoring: The best way to manage any condition is by being aware of your blood vitals. This pandemic is the best time to get into the habit of self-monitoring your vitals and tracking it daily to be more active with your healthcare.
- Practice social distancing and good hygiene: Follow all the recommended social distancing rules in your area, and try to stay home and limit contact with other people. Make sure that you practice extreme hygiene, especially when handling frequently touched surfaces, and packages that were handled by other people.
- Know the symptoms: When it comes to COVID-19, being aware of the symptoms and getting tested in time can make a huge difference. If you experience loss of smell and/or taste, extreme fatigue, fever or cough, follow the recommended steps in your area immediately. Make sure that you inform your medical team about your history with hypertension as well.
Taking the necessary steps to protect oneself and managing existing hypertension can go a long way in preventing COVID-19 infection and its ensuing complications. Being an active participant in your disease management can go a long way in ensuring your stay healthy and that your disease is well managed.
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