COVID-19 may have wreaked havoc on another aspect of our health

Hand holding a covid test which has been linked to high blood pressure
Covid has been linked to high blood pressure, even among patients with no prior history of the condition. (Getty Images)

As well as being the leading cause of death in the UK in 2020 and 2021, researchers have found that COVID-19 may lead to high blood pressure.

A new study of more than 45,000 hospital patients infected with the virus found a "significant association" between coronavirus and the development of persistent high blood pressure among those with no previous history of the condition.

Research pinpointed that people with COVID-19 over the age of 40, Black adults or those with pre-existing conditions - such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary artery disease or chronic kidney disease - all had an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

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"Covid-19 is typically more severe in patients with pre-existing high blood pressure, including higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality compared to people with normal blood pressure," study author Professor Tim Duong, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York City, said.

Duong added that this was the first study to investigate the development and risk factors associated with persistent high blood pressure in people infected with Covid compared to influenza, a similar respiratory virus.

Asian Senior woman sitting on a chair and check blood pressure gauge and heart rate using digital sphygmomanometer in living room at home at day time. Mature senior doing medical examining in a day time. Medium shot
High blood pressure affects around 14 million British adults. (Getty Images)

Researchers found that people hospitalised for COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to develop persistent hypertension compared to people with flu.

"Given the sheer number of people affected by Covid-19 compared to influenza, these statistics are alarming and suggest that many more patients will likely develop high blood pressure in the future, which may present a major public health burden," Prof Duong added.

"These findings should heighten awareness to screen at-risk patients for hypertension after Covid-19 illness to enable earlier identification and treatment for hypertension-related complications, such as cardiovascular and kidney disease."

What is high blood pressure?

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), around a quarter of UK adults - or 14.4 million people - have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is classified as having top and bottom numbers greater than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg.

What effect does high blood pressure have?

High blood pressure can put strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, and persistent high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease among others.

Signs and symptoms of high blood pressure

The BHF says that most people with high blood pressure feel fine, so it’s important to get it checked whenever you go to the GP. Some signs you may have high blood pressure include:

  • Nosebleeds

  • Blurred Vision

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Chest pain

Elderly patient with bp, heart rate, digital pulse check equipment for medical geriatric awareness in stroke systolic high blood pressure, hypertension, hypotension and cardiovascular disease in aged senior older woman person
Blurred vision can be a sign of high blood pressure. (Getty Images)

High blood pressure causes

According to the NHS, some things that can increase your risk of high blood pressure includes:

  • Have a relative with high blood pressure

  • Have a lot of stress

  • Smoke

  • Overweight/obese

  • Eat too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables

  • Do not exercise enough

  • Drink too much alcohol or coffee

  • Are over 65

  • Are of black African or black Caribbean descent

It adds that chances of getting high blood pressure can be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet and weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and drinking minimal alcohol.

Lifestyle changes are the most common treatment for high blood pressure, but medicine is also recommended in some cases.

Watch: Study Suggests Static Exercise May Be the Most Effective Way to Lower Blood Pressure