High blood pressure means your blood pressure is consistently too high and that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. While this process may seem harmless on the surface, over time, the force of blood pushing against your artery walls can cause them to lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow. The narrowing of arteries makes it easier for fatty material to clog them up and if the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack.
High blood pressure is a well known risk factor of heart disease but there may also be a new risk factor in our midst.
Patients with high blood pressure may be at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus -a new strain of virus that first broke out in China in December and has since caused fatalities around the globe.
The association has been identified by a top Chinese intensive care doctor who’s been treating critically ill patients since mid-January.
Du Bin, director of the intensive care unit at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, is among a number of Chinese doctors working in Wuhan, who have noticed that infected patients with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of drying from the pathogen.
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According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), people with heart and circulatory conditions – complications of high blood pressure – should be extra vigilant as the threat of coronavirus increases.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: “There’s still a lot we are still learning about how this virus affects people with existing medical conditions.
“However, information to date suggests that people with heart and circulatory disease including cerebrovascular disease (problems with the blood supply to the brain, such as stroke) appear to be at higher risk of complications caused by the virus.”
Echoing the threat, a bulletin issued by the American College of Cardiology at the end of last month revealed that 40 percent of hospitalised COVID-19 patients had cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease (which refers to blood flow in the brain, such as stroke).
“That statistic doesn’t mean people with heart disease are more likely to contract the coronavirus,” said Orly Vardeny, associate professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota.
She added: “It just means that those folks are more likely to have complications once they do get it.”
Other at-risk medical conditions
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), people with lung disease, cancer or diabetes also appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
How to protect yourself and at-risk groups from catching and spreading the coronavirus
According to the NHS, the main protective measure is to wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.