Study Shows Increase In Hypertension During COVID-19 Pandemic


HYANNIS – Regional health experts are raising awareness of a rising trend of hypertension following the release of a recent study documenting an increase in high blood pressure among U.S. adults during the pandemic.

The study, published in the American Heart Association’s publication “Circulation”, monitored the blood pressure levels of about 500,000 adults with an average age of 46 on an annual basis beginning in 2018.

While data recorded in the early years of the study found no major increase in blood pressure readings, findings from April to December 2020 captured a 26% rise among participants into higher blood pressure category.

“The pandemic is sort of the perfect storm for all of the things that can make blood pressure worse,” said John Hostetter, cardiologist at Cape Cod Cardiovascular Centers.

“There’s definitely been previous studies that have shown higher incidences of cardiac events after disasters like earthquakes and Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade center. They’ve all been associated with higher risks of heart attacks and I think there is no doubt that the chronic stress that comes from the pandemic also contributes.”

According to Hostetter, factors such as anxiety, chronic stress, job loss and lifestyle changes can all negatively impact blood pressure.

Cardiologists recommend following a healthy diet ample with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood, frequent exercise habits, and reducing alcohol and sodium intake to lower the risk of hypertension or reverse it in its early stages.

Additionally, individuals who have avoided in person doctor visits during the pandemic are being encouraged to resume routine check-ups to avoid potentially harmful health conditions.

“The healthcare system is definitely trying its best to be as safe as possible and vaccinate their staff and so forth so people shouldn’t put off their health at this point because it’s increasingly important for their long-term prevention of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease to avoid something as common as high blood pressure.” said Hostetter.

Approximately 116 million adults in the United States are estimated to have some level of hypertension, which is attributed to up to 500,000 deaths each year.

To view the study, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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