Keeping your blood pressure in check in the era of COVID-19

Nowadays, doing something as simple as watching the evening news can raise your blood pressure. That’s a problem because elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is dangerous, especially for older adults, people 60 and older, who are at the highest risk of experiencing severe complications from COVID-19.

Hypertension is not called  “the silent killer” for nothing. This dangerous disease, which affects nearly half of all Americans, does not cause symptoms you can see or feel. Yet, if not treated, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems, and kidney failure.

Here’s a breakdown of blood pressure ranges and their danger levels:

Normal blood pressure – Your systolic (top, or first, number) pressure is less than 120 and your diastolic pressure (bottom, or second, number) is less than 80. For example 119/79

Prehypertension—Your top number is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number is between 80 and 89. You may be at risk for developing high blood pressure.

High BP—Your blood pressure measures 140/90 or higher at two or more checkups.

Fortunately, there are proven ways to reduce high blood pressure and help bring your blood pressure down to a normal range, even in a pandemic!

  1. Keep a healthy weight. Being overweight adds to your risk.
  2. Exercise daily. Even moderate exercise can lower blood pressure. Of course you should check with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.
  3. Eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Fresh fruits and veggies are high in potassium, which play a role in lowering blood pressure.
  4. Hide the salt shaker. Most Americans eat way too much salt. A low-salt diet can help lower blood pressure.
  5. No smoking or vaping. That needs to be repeated. No smoking or vaping. Tobacco use can elevate blood pressure and cause many other health problems.
  6. Either become a teetotaler or drink less alcohol. As a rule, men should have no more than two drinks a day, and women no more than one.
  7. Follow your doctor’s orders. If the above lifestyle changes alone don’t do the trick, your doctor may prescribe blood pressure pills. If so, take them as prescribed.

And remember, if you have been diagnosed as having high blood pressure or any other underlying condition, it’s vitally important to follow recommendations about social distancing, hand-washing and other practices that can prevent COVID-19’s spread.

To find out more about high blood pressure go to the American Heart Association’s site at https://www.heart.org/en/coronavirus