COVID-19, Hypertension and Heart Health

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As we see a growing rise in the number of COVID-19 patients in the second wave of the pandemic, everyone is understandably concerned about the risks of infection. However, while the virus primarily affects the respiratory functions of the body, it's important to remember that other underlying causes may make us more susceptible to disease. We need to look at holistic health, and a crucial part of that is to keep our heart health in check.

How COVID-19 Affects the Heart

A study published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information reports a 250% higher risk of severe to fatal COVID-19 infection among patients with hypertension, and another by Experimental Physiology shows that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 face long-term consequences on various aspects of their health. 

Particularly, increased stiffness of the arteries was discovered in young adults, which is heavily implied to impact heart health. This discovery is also important to note for other demographics of the population who suffered a severe case of the disease.

Appalachian State University's researchers found that COVID-19 may have negative impacts on arteries throughout the body, including the carotid artery. The carotid artery is responsible for supplying the brain with oxygenated blood. Hence, any negative effect on this particular artery is a major cause for concern.

There has also been a high overlap between patients with symptoms of hypertension and COVID-19 patients.

Managing Heart Health

Hypertension, commonly known as High Blood Pressure (HBP) is well-documented to be a "silent killer", damaging blood vessels and heart function until it becomes a serious problem. While there is no sure-fire cure for hypertension and its symptoms, a few changes to your lifestyle can greatly reduce your chances of succumbing to serious heart ailments and even reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Here are a few steps to keep your heart health and hypertension in check:

  • Tracking the NumbersWhen diagnosed with hypertension, it is important to keep checking your blood pressure at regular intervals. Checking the changes in your blood pressure can clue you in to whether your lifestyle is helping you stay healthy or not.
  • A Healthy DietWhile eating a balanced diet is good practice for all, when you are at risk of hypertension, it also becomes important to manage your salt intake. High levels of sodium can lead to negative effects for your blood pressure.
  • Better Stress ManagementIt's no surprise that the current state of affairs has led to high levels of constant stress for most of the world's population. However, keeping your stress levels in check not only keeps you mentally healthy, it also reduces your blood pressure, keeping your hypertension in check.
  • Consistent ExerciseImproving your cardiovascular health through regular exercise can help counteract the negative impacts of hypertension. This is due to the fact that cardio exercises improve the oxygen levels in the blood, and also lead to better heart rate regulation as a whole. The more you move, the healthier your heart will be.
  • Don't Forget the MedicinesHypertension medication is prescribed on the basis of your needs, and should not be neglected. Sometimes, one may be tempted to skip a dose of medicine because they feel like they have their blood pressure under control. However, this only goes to confuse the body's immune system. Thus, skipping medications may also put you at higher risk of COVID-19 infection.

Towards Better Heart Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased awareness of self-care and the need for keeping a check on one's health. Dealing with hypertension is a life-long commitment. It takes discipline, care and good habits to stay healthy, even more so in the midst of a global health crisis. It's important to keep the above mentioned steps in mind to stay healthy and reduce the risk of COVID infection as well.

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