US Blood Pressure Shot Up in Pandemic

The lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be evident for years to come. Many families are struggling with rising food and gas prices, loss of loved ones, and more uncertainty as new variants of the virus spread.  So it’s not surprising to learn that a new study found blood pressure readings of Americans rose significantly last year when compared with data from 2019. 

According to a recent New York Times report, researchers found that blood pressure measurements of nearly half a million adults increased enough to have a lasting effect on overall health if not addressed.  High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the risk for stroke, heart failure, and heart attacks as well as puts people infected with COVID-19 at greater risk for severe illness. 

Scientists involved with the study suggest that not only could the stress of the pandemic have contributed to increased blood pressure measurements, but people were noticed to be exercising and sleeping less, drinking more, and delaying regular health screenings.   Weight gain, which many people experienced during the pandemic, is also associated with raising blood pressure.

Over the long term, researchers stress the importance of seeing your doctor for regular health screenings, controlling blood pressure and diabetes properly, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise.   Managing chronic stress and stopping smoking can also help improve health and lower your blood pressure.  If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to more chronic health problems that can place a greater burden on health care systems and family caregivers.

Social isolation, anxiety, and depression may also be linked with heart disease and people who experience ongoing stress can forget to take medications or make unhealthy lifestyle and dietary choices.  Read more about the connection between stress and high blood pressure and discover new ideas for stress-reducing activities by following this link to the Mayo Clinic Health Information site.