Your Blood Pressure Medications Are Safe
At the start of the pandemic, there were concerns that two common classes of blood pressure medications, ACE inhibitors and ARBs , may increase a person’s risk of developing a more severe case of COVID-19.
“The initial concern was that these drugs cause a person to produce higher amounts of ACE2, the molecule the virus uses to gain entry into and survive in the body,” Dr. Chebrolu explains. “This, in turn, could result in a person becoming more seriously ill.”
However, the validity of these initial concerns hasn’t quite panned out.
“Data from peer-reviewed research studies are actually showing us that ACE inhibitors and ARBs don’t increase a person’s risk of a more severe illness. In fact, these medications may actually be associated with lower risk, likely since these medications help lower high blood pressure,” Dr. Chebrolu says.
This means that people with high blood pressure should continue to take their medications as prescribed by their doctor.
Risks And Complications Of High Blood Pressure
All medications have the potential for side effects, so talk to your doctor about what to expect. Since other medical conditions are the leading causes of high blood pressure, your doctor will talk to you about your options for treating any other medical conditions you have.;
The greatest risk lies in not addressing your high blood pressure.;
Leaving it untreated can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, and organs. It also puts you at risk for stroke and heart attack. Talk to your doctor about any blood pressure-related concerns you may have.;
Other ways to lower your blood pressure over time include:
High Blood Pressure And Daily Activity
Check with your doctor before starting a new activity or increasing your level or intensity. Be active safely. Build up your levels of activity gradually.
Try to do at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. This can be done in bouts of 10 minutes or longer, if that is more convenient.
Physical activity is any form of bodily movement performed by our large muscle groups. Moderate-intensity physical activity , such as brisk walking or cycling, is enough to provide health benefits.
Walking is a great activity for all ages. You may like to join one of the Heart Foundations community walking groups.;
Some types of exercises, such as body presses and lifting heavy weights, can raise your blood pressure. Avoid these if you have high blood pressure.;
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Before You Measure Your Blood Pressure
- Avoid things that can raise your blood pressure in the short term. Dont measure your blood pressure within half an hour of eating, smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, or exercising. These can all raise your blood pressure temporarily. If you need to use the toilet, go before you measure your blood pressure.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Wear a short-sleeved t-shirt or something with sleeves you can push up easily, nothing tight. This is so that you can fit the cuff around your arm.
- Rest for five minutes before you take your reading. Sit down somewhere quiet, ideally at a desk or table. Have your back supported with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor. Stay in this position while you take your blood pressure.
- Make sure your arm is supported and at the same level as your heart. Position yourself so that your arm is resting on a surface and is at the same height as your heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
- Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, your blood pressure will rise temporarily.
Who Can Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can affect anyone. These risk factors increase your chance of developing the condition:;
- Family history: Your close relatives with high blood pressure increase your risk since it is often a genetic condition.;
- Age: The elderly are more at risk for high blood pressure as blood vessels gradually lose some of their elastic quality with time
- Sex: Up to the age of 64, men are more likely to get high blood pressure than women. The opposite is true for ages 65 and above.
- Race: African-Americans have an elevated risk of high blood pressure.
- Kidney disease: This condition is tied to an increase in blood pressure.
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How Do You Lower High Blood Pressure Quickly
Here are some simple recommendations: Exercise most days of the week. Exercise is the most effective way to lower your blood pressure. Consume a low-sodium diet. Too much sodium causes blood pressure to rise. Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day. Make stress reduction a priority.
Give Yourself The Gift Of A Healthy Lifestyle
Engage in physical activity regularly. Do what you enjoy; walk, swim, ride a bike or jog to get your muscles going. Letting go of the tension in your body will help you feel better.
Relaxing for short periods during your workday, at night and on weekends may help lower your blood pressure. Another great stress-buster is to get regular physical activity.
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Blood Pressure And The Heart
Theres a reason why your blood pressure is taken every time you visit a doctors office or hospital, regardless of the complaint that brought you there. High blood pressure is rightly known as the silent killer. It often carries no symptoms or warning signs but can drastically increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The higher the number, the harder your heart is having to work to pump blood around your body and the more likely it is that damage is being done to the heart muscle. Since all parts of your body rely on circulation, though, its not just your heart that high blood pressure can impact. If blood doesnt flow easily, it can harm your arteries as well as vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and brain.
High blood pressure has been shown to damage the tiny blood vessels in the parts of your brain responsible for cognition and memory, greatly increasing your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or another dementia. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can also take an emotional toll, affecting your outlook and making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression. And just as blood pressure may have an impact your mood, the reverse can also be true:
High Blood Pressure & Covid
So, if you have high blood pressure, how worried do you need to be?
“The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still very new to us, and we’re constantly learning more and more about how this virus affects the body and who is most at risk for severe illness,” says Dr. Bindu Chebrolu, cardiologist at Houston Methodist. “One group of people who may be at higher risk are those with high blood pressure, particularly those who don’t have their high blood pressure under control.”
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is incredibly common. It affects millions of adults in the U.S., many of whom don’t even know they have it. Long-term, high blood pressure can lead to a range of chronic health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Right now, having high blood pressure, especially if it’s uncontrolled, may actually increase your risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19.
Here are four things Dr. Chebrolu wants you to know about high blood pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Early Signs Of Future Problems
The;Mayo Clinic;argues that its an early sign of issues with high blood pressure and that if you experience;white coat hypertension youre at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems. Perhaps the temporary;rise in blood pressure is enough to contribute to a long-term problem.
However,;other reputable research;shows that developing cardiovascular disease was influenced by the age of the patients,;not;the high blood pressure due to the syndrome. In layman’s termsyour blood vessels age with you. The older you get, the more your vessels can contract and narrow. Consequently, the older you are, the more pronounced your high blood pressure is when you are exhibiting white coat hypertension.
Breathing Techniques To Lower Blood Pressure
Looking for specialized breathing techniques to lower blood pressure? The term blood pressure refers to the pressure blood exerts on the vein walls. When someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension, this means the force of the blood on the veins is too high, specifically above 130/80 mmHg.
Several factors that contribute to high blood pressure include: smoking, salty diet, obesity, stress, excessive alcohol consumption and family history. Failure to manage ones blood pressure can result in heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and many other conditions.
In addition to taking medication prescribed by your doctor, there are many ways to alter ones lifestyle to manage this condition. Exercising, limiting salt intake, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco smoke can help lower blood pressure.
For those who cant control their high blood pressure with these methods alone, slow, deep breathing techniques may help according to several studies. These techniques work on a cellular level to reduce blood pressure and promote heart health.
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Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure Increases Your Risk
Managing high blood pressure is always important, but, right now, it’s probably more important for your immediate health than ever before.
“We don’t yet fully understand why untreated high blood pressure puts a person at higher risk for more severe COVID-19 symptoms or complications,” says Dr. Chebrolu. “However, since it may be the difference between being hospitalized and being able to self-treat your symptoms at home, it’s important to be sure your high blood pressure is being effectively managed.”
Managing high blood pressure may look different from person to person, but it generally includes:
- Regularly measuring and tracking your blood pressure
- Taking any blood pressure medications your doctor has prescribed
- Staying committed to healthy lifestyle choices
“If your blood pressure numbers are consistently high, schedule a visit with your doctor,” recommends Dr. Chebrolu. “Your doctor can help you understand the lifestyle changes needed to help manage your blood pressure, as well as whether or not you need to take medications to lower your blood pressure.”
White Coat Hypertension Vs Hypertension
White coat hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs at your doctors office or in a medical setting, but not in other settings. Regular hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs in many scenarios, not just a medical one.
Among those with high blood pressure at the doctors office, 15 to 30 percent of them may actually have white coat hypertension. Experiencing the white coat effect doesnt mean you have more general hypertension.
Likewise, some people with hypertension dont always experience high blood pressure at the doctors office.
This second condition is called masked hypertension. It occurs when your blood pressure reading is within a normal range at your doctors office but is higher in other settings. Learn more about understanding your blood pressure reading.
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Checking For ‘white Coat Syndrome’
Some people get anxious around health care workers wearing white lab coats. That pattern, called “white-coat syndrome,” can drive blood pressure up, but that didn’t happen in Turner’s study.
Patients got their blood pressure checked by health care workers wearing street clothes, surgical “scrubs,” or a white lab coat over their clothes. Health care workers’ dress didn’t affect patient’s blood pressure, the study shows.
The American Heart Association recommends the sit-in-a-chair-and-wait strategy, and the new data support that advice, note Turner and colleagues. Both position and timing matter when it comes to measuring blood pressure.
How About White Coat Syndrome
The term white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension have been used for years to indicate if you have high blood pressure readings only when you are In a medical setting.; This is something that may be more prevalent with truck drivers and others who must qualify to work, and there exists stress relating to having to meet the minimum requirements to drive and work.
From a medical standpoint, it typically means that there is evidence that your blood pressure has tested normal at home, or maybe at the pharmacy, but is typically higher when tested at the doctors office or during your DOT medical exam.
Your blood pressure is not fixed it rises and falls throughout the day in response to what you are doing and what is happening around you.; White coat syndrome is a response to being nervous about having your blood pressure tested, although a person does not always notice they are nervous.; A driver may actually have their blood pressure rise as high as much as 30 points if very anxious.; It is therefore important for a driver who is anxious about their medical exam to know what to do to help manage this before going in to their exam.
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How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure
You can help prevent high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle. This means
If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to prevent it from getting worse or causing complications. You should get regular medical care and follow your prescribed treatment plan. Your plan will include healthy lifestyle habit recommendations and possibly medicines.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Simple Tips To Improve Your Blood Pressure Checks
A recent study confirmed that the doctors office may be one of the worst places to determine if your blood pressure is under control. The automatic rise in tension many people experience when they are being scrutinized contributes to artificially high blood pressure readings. Although many times the only way improve ones blood pressure is through treatment , other times Ive seen a simple 10 second relaxation routine drop a patients blood pressure reading by up to 20 systolic points.
The following may help you obtain a better, more accurate reading the next time you have your pressure checked in the harried office.
These three easy steps can make a huge difference. Anecdotally as I mentioned before Ive seen 20 point differences before and after. Evidence supports this, including the most recent study which found:
The proportion of patients whose systolic BP was identified as controlled in the first 30 days varied by measurement type: 28% for clinic readings, 47% for home readings, and 68% for research-based readings
Dr. Charles is a family physician who blogs at;The Examining Room of Dr. Charles.
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Understanding High Blood Pressure
Lets be honest, high blood pressure is a term thats thrown around a lot and we should all be familiar with it. However, in reality, few of us truly understand what it means. So, here is a short synopsis of blood pressure:
Systolic Pressure: According to;The American Heart Association, this is the measurement of the blood pressure your blood is exerting against your vessels when your heart is beating.
Diastolic Pressure: This is the blood pressure your heart is exerting against your vessels when your heart is resting between beats.
High Blood Pressure: Healthy blood vessels are flexible and expand and contract with your blood pressure. Vessels can narrow and constrict which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through your vessels. This creates an increase in blood pressurein other words, high blood pressure. See the chart below for normal blood pressure by age, along with minimum and maximum readings.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting. Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm. ;
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is called the systolic blood pressure.;
The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is called the diastolic blood pressure. Both are measured in units called millimetres of mercury .
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Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose high blood pressure. Your doctor will check your blood pressure to see what your reading is.;
If your doctor suspects that your high blood pressure is the symptom of another medical condition, youll need to complete more specific tests to learn more. If another condition is discovered, treating it should have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
Making Changes If You Have Anxiety Or Depression
If your high blood pressure is co-occurring with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety, it can be even tougher to find the energy and motivation to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Just thinking about exercising or preparing a healthy meal, for example, can seem overwhelming. But by focusing all your efforts on one tiny change at a time, youll find that youre capable of more than you realized.
Take the first step. It could be as simple as going for a walk or downloading a meditation app or buying some nicotine patches. It can take time for lifestyle changes to register as a reduction in blood pressurebut sometimes they can improve your mood much sooner. Taking that first step is always the hardest.
Focus on small steps. Its easy to get overwhelmed by daily life when youre battling depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. By taking small but positive steps each day, though, youll find that your energy and outlook will gradually start to improve. Once you feel happier and more positive, youll find it easier to forge ahead with lifestyle changes and see the results in both your blood pressure readings and your overall outlook and wellbeing.
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