High blood pressure drastically increases your risk of coronavirus – the 8 signs and how to protect yourself – The Sun

HAVING high blood pressure drastically increases your risk of coronavirus, doctors are warning.

Medics say those with the pre-existing condition, which affects 16 million people in the UK, are more likely to contract Covid-19, have worse symptoms or succumb to the deadly disease.

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And doctors are now urging people with high blood pressure to take extra care during the pandemic.

Data from China and Italy, two countries hit early by the virus, reveals that there is a higher risk of Covid-19 infections and complications in people with high blood pressure.

In China, 25 per cent to 50 per cent of people who came to hospitals with coronavirus had high blood pressure or another health condition like cancer, diabetes, or lung disease.

In Italy, more than 99 per cent of people who've died from the virus had one of these conditions – and 76 per cent of them had high blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure are also slightly more likely to die from coronavirus, with their risk is about six per cent higher than the overall population.

Having a weaker immune system is one reason people with high blood pressure and other health problems are at higher risk for coronavirus. Long-term health conditions and ageing weaken your immune system so it's less able to fight off the virus.


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The signs

If you have high blood pressure, you may not even know about it – that's why high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer".

There are rarely any signs or symptoms, so millions of people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it.

However, if your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including…

  1. Severe headache
  2. Fatigue or confusion
  3. Vision problems
  4. Chest pain
  5. Difficulty breathing
  6. Irregular heartbeat
  7. Blood in the urine
  8. Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears

Use the NHS 111 online service if you are concerned or call 999 immediately if you think you or are loved one are having a medical emergency.

How to protect yourself

Blood pressure UK are advising people with raised blood pressure to follow the Government advice issued for everyone to follow to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

These steps are particularly important if you are over 70 or have an underlying health condition, including heart disease or diabetes.

They say the main things people with high blood pressure need to do are…

1. Keep monitoring your blood pressure

If you monitor your blood pressure at home, keep going as normal.

The ideal blood pressure should be below 120 and over 80 (120/80) and most UK adults have blood pressure in the range 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90).

The higher number is the systolic pressure, which is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The lower number is the diastolic pressure, the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

2. Stay at home

Stay at home and only go out for essential shopping or for exercise once a day, and only travel to work if essential – even if you aren't self-isolating.

This is to avoid avoid spreading the virus between households to avoid the NHS becoming overwhelmed.

3. Wash your hands frequently

The best way to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands with soap and water for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Happy Birthday takes about 20 seconds to sing twice and is said to be the perfect number to clean your hands to thoroughly.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

4. Reduce stress

Stress can suppress the immune system and make you more vulnerable to infection, according to experts.

Research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which can boost inflammation, a precursor to many diseases, in your body.

Chronic stress may also interfere with the infection-fighting ability of your white blood cells, making you more susceptible to contracting illnesses.

Dr Jenna Macciochi, one of the UK's leading Immunologists, said: "Stress is one of the major contributors to an unbalanced immune system and susceptibility to infections.

"It’s important to try and reduce as much as you can through breathing techniques or just taking a moment to have a good cuppa."

5. Self-isolate if you feel unwell

If you are the first person in your household to develop symptoms of coronavirus you must stay at home for seven days.

However, for all other household members who remain well they must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

The 14 day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for seven days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.

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If you develop difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.

Inform your healthcare professional that you are taking medication for high blood pressure.

Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services (rather than going in person).

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