U.S. adults’ blood pressure levels increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

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According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease, and nearly 75% of all cases remain above the recommended blood pressure levels. Stay-at-home orders were implemented across the U.S. between March and April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in a shift to remote health care for numerous chronic health conditions including high blood pressure and had a negative impact on healthy lifestyle behaviors for many people.

In a recent study of nearly half a million adults across the US, researchers assessed the changes in blood pressure levels before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher increases in blood pressure measures were seen among women for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, among older participants for systolic blood pressure, and in younger participants for diastolic blood pressure. During the pandemic, more participants were considered to have high blood pressure.

“From a public health perspective, during a pandemic, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are important. However, we also should be mindful of chronic health conditions such as the worsening of blood pressure,” Dr. Stephen Anderson, cardiologist with Baptist Heart said. “Even in the midst of the pandemic, it’s important to pay attention to your blood pressure and your chronic medical conditions. Get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol. See your doctor regularly to learn how to manage your cardiovascular risk factors.”

The study authors are following up on these results to find out if this trend continued in 2021, which may indicate a forthcoming wave of strokes and heart attacks.

Unfortunately, this research confirms what is being seen across the country – the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have long-reaching health impacts across the country and particularly related to uncontrolled hypertension.

For information on services and screenings offered at Baptist Heart, visit baptistheart.org or call 601-968-1966.

Source: American Heart Association

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