Measuring Blood Pressure

Study finds that high blood pressure rose even earlier during the pandemic.

A new study has found that Americans with high blood pressure experienced an increase in their blood pressure during the first eight months following the Covid-19 pandemic.

High blood pressure can cause blood pressure to push against the walls of blood vessels. This makes the heart less efficient. Both the heart and vessels must work harder. High blood pressure, if not treated, can eventually cause damage to the arteries. This could increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

The number one killer is heart disease. The number one killer worldwide is heart disease. According to researchers, well-controlled blood pressure is the most modifiable risk factor.

The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. It is the largest look at blood pressure trends since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Researchers compared the blood pressure levels of more than 137,000 people with high blood pressure between August 2018 and January 2020. They also compared them with levels from April 2020 through January 2021. The records were obtained from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, Columbia University Irving Medical Center New York City, and Ochsner Health New Orleans. On average, the participants were 66 years of age. Over half of the participants were women and 30% were Black.

The mercury millimeters (or mmHg) is the unit of blood pressure. A measurement is either a systolic or diastolic number.

Systolic pressure is the force of blood pumping out of the heart into the vessels. Diastolic pressure is the pressure that the heart creates when it rests between beats. High blood pressure is defined by a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg.

The average systolic reading of the patients rose by 1.79 mmHg and their diastolic readings increased by 1.30 mmHg in the study.

The NIH released a news release saying that although these increases may seem small, studies have shown that a mere 2 mmHg rise in blood pressure can increase the risk of major cardiovascular events by up to 5%.

According to Dr. Hiroshi Gottanda, an assistant professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s division of General Internal Medicine, the overall increase in numbers was “smaller than expected”.

Gotanda believes that the growth of telemedicine in the wake of the pandemic could have been beneficial. Studies have shown that telemedicine can be an effective option for an in-person doctor visit for managing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure does not always have symptoms so people with it should monitor their levels at home. They may be more attentive to keeping track if they have an appointment with a doctor. If their blood pressure is high, the doctor can alter their prescription.

The study revealed that people didn’t check their blood pressure as often as they used to in the initial three months of the pandemic. The number of measurements dropped by as much as 90% compared to before the pandemic. Although the number of measurements decreased over time, they were still lower than pre-pandemic levels at the end.

There were limitations to the study, such as that it only measured people who could access health care. The results may have been different for those without insurance or health care.

Gotanda stated that the pandemic might have had a greater impact on blood pressure.

Gotanda stated that the study does not provide any explanation for why blood pressure rose. It could be due to routine changes that are related to the pandemic.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association, chief medical officer for prevention, stated that “clinical care visits decreased dramatically in the first months of the pandemic. This was due to delayed care seeking by patients and reduced access by some clinicians. Patient’s behavior was influenced by how they understood COVID prevention messages, and their fear of COVID. Job loss could have led to lower care and fewer prescriptions being filled early on. The number of visits has been rising, and blood pressure control is improving but not as fast.

Studies also show that people have had less sleep during the pandemic. People stayed home more and exercised less while their gyms were closed, ate less healthy food, and drank more alcohol.

Gotanda stated that the researchers will be looking into how even a slight increase in blood pressure can have an impact on patients’ overall health. They want to find out which patients had difficulty accessing telemedicine.

Telemedicine could have a wide impact. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure. Half of those with uncontrolled high blood pressure is considered high. This is a staggering number of 37 million adults, and the obesity epidemic will only make it worse.

You can control your blood pressure by taking steps to lower it. The American Heart Association recommends that you keep a close watch on your numbers. If they are aware of their numbers, they can make adjustments if necessary.

High blood pressure can be treated with medication. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, stopping vaping, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet, are also possible.

Heart-healthy eating habits include eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, low salt, and saturated fat, and avoiding sweets. This diet also restricts alcohol consumption to a minimum. American Heart Association recommends that men and women limit their alcohol intake to two drinks each day.

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