- Get COVID-19
- Have worse symptoms
- Die from the infection
High Blood Pressure Risks
Growing data shows a higher risk of COVID-19 infections and complications in people with high blood pressure.
Analysis of early data from both China and the U.S. shows that high blood pressure is the most commonly shared pre-existing condition among those hospitalized, affecting between 30% to 50% of the patients. Other health conditions included cancer, diabetes, or lung disease. In Italy, a report said that more than 99% of people who had died from the virus had one of these conditions — and 76% of them had high blood pressure.
Other research shows that people with high blood pressure are also slightly more likely to die from coronavirus. Their risk is about twice as high as that of the overall population.
What’s the Link?
A weaker immune system is one reason people with high blood pressure and other health problems are at higher risk for coronavirus. Long-term health conditions and aging weaken your immune system so it’s less able to fight off the virus. Nearly two-thirds of people over 60 have high blood pressure.
Another possibility is that the higher risk comes not from high blood pressure itself, but from certain drugs used to treat it — ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).
The theory is based on the fact that ACE inhibitors and ARBs raise levels of an enzyme called ACE2 in your body. And to infect cells, the COVID-19 virus must attach itself to ACE2.
Some large studies found no ties between the use of these drugs and how severe COVID-19 is. Other research suggests that they may make COVID-19 less severe. There’s also no proof that people have less severe illness after stopping them.
Stopping these medications may make heart and kidney disease worse. It can also raise your risk of death.
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend that you keep taking your high blood pressure medicine as prescribed. If you don’t, it could raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke, putting you in the hospital just as coronavirus cases are coming in.