Lower your blood pressure to this number to reduce your risk of severe Covid, study reveals

Lower your blood pressure to this number to reduce your risk of severe Covid, study reveals

Lower your blood pressure to this number to reduce your risk of severe Covid, study reveals

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High blood pressure is a known risk factor for a Covid-19 attack that is severe enough to increase the risk of hospitalization and death. Actually, research has shown high blood pressure doubles the risk of a severe case of Covid, even if you are fully vaccinated and vaccinated.

Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury (abbreviated mmHg), which consists of two numbers—the upper or systolic reading, which represents the maximum amount of pressure in your arteries, and the lower or diastolic reading, which shows the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle is resting between beats. .

But what is considered a high enough blood pressure reading to cause that risk? Until today, scientists were not sure. Now a new study from England published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One has answered that question.

“We found that in people with diagnosed hypertension, the risk of Covid-19 increased significantly after the high value exceeded 150 mmHg or the low value exceeded 90 mmHg compared to the target blood pressure (120-129/80-89 mmHg),” she said. lead author Holly Pavey, a British Heart Foundation-funded PhD student at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, via email.

Research has shown that people with this level of uncontrolled high blood pressure are more likely to be admitted to hospital and die from a Covid infection, regardless of other known risk factors such as age, ethnicity or obesity.

The new study was able to be more detailed and precise due to its inherent integration with the UK National Health Service. That level of data sharing allows access to “really precise data about long-term blood pressure control for their patients,” said Dr. Joseph Ebinger, assistant professor of cardiology and director of clinical analytics at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“They found that it’s not just a diagnosis of high blood pressure — yes or no — but that the risk goes up as your systolic blood pressure goes up, which is actually a measure of lack of control,” said Ebinger, who was not involved in the study’s research.

Unfortunately, many people fail to properly control their blood pressure, even after being diagnosed and taking medication, Ebinger added.

“It’s estimated that less than half of people diagnosed with high blood pressure actually have their hypertension under control, so it’s a big problem,” he said. “This is due to a multitude of factors: under-diagnosis, lack of awareness, non-adherence to medication and under-treatment.”

On the plus side, successfully lowering blood pressure with medication is associated with a corresponding reduction in the risk of severe Covid, new research has found.

“It’s really important that individuals get their blood pressure checked regularly and that doctors try to get their patients’ blood pressure under control,” Pavey said.

“Controlling blood pressure to target levels is important, regardless of the type of treatment used to achieve it,” she said. “Controlling blood pressure will help reduce the risk of getting seriously ill from new types of Covid-19 or other viruses in the future.”

Blood pressure readings can be confusing—there are a lot of numbers flying around, and medical professionals haven’t exactly made it easy for people to keep track of them.

“Normal” blood pressure readings are usually 120 mmHg systolic (top reading) over 80 mmHg diastolic (bottom reading), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s probably the number you’ll hear the most. However, that may not be the number your doctor uses for treatment, Ebinger said.

Doctors aimed for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90 to control the risk of cardiovascular disease and death, he explained. Then in 2015 the results of the SPRINT or Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine — discoveries that changed the thinking of many medical professionals.

The SPRINT study found that targeting blood pressure below 120 systolic (the top number) in people with hypertension – but no diabetes – prevented most cases of heart disease and death. However, there were some side effects, including “a higher rate of acute kidney injury or acute kidney failure in the intensive care group,” according to the trial.

That possibility was worrisome when it came to the elderly, who often have multiple chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, kidney problems and more, Ebinger said.

Lower your blood pressure to this number to reduce your risk of severe Covid, study reveals

“So in 2017, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines narrowed the gap and set a guideline of a systolic reading of less than 130 and a diastolic reading of less than 80,” Ebinger said. “This is where some discussions begin between different types of doctors. I am a cardiologist and we believe that lower is better. We want to reduce that number as much as we can.

“Some primary care doctors and geriatricians might say, ‘You know what, that might not be the best thing for some of my patients,’ and they’ll treat more,” he said. “So this is where clinical practice and some guidelines don’t always add up.”

Here are the current medical guidelines, according to the US Food and Drug Administration:

  • A typical normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
  • Readings between 120/80 and 129/89 are considered prehypertension, meaning it is not as low as it should be, but is not yet medically considered high blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure is a high grade 1 red flag if it is 130/80.
  • Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered stage 2 hypertension.

If your blood pressure is 180/110 or more more than once, seek medical attention immediately. Reading at this high level is a “hypertensive crisis,” the FDA said.

The point? Measure your blood pressure often (here’s how to do it right) and see your doctor regularly.

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