High Blood Pressure Doesn't Seem To Raise COVID-19 Risk : Coronavirus Live Updates Despite reports hypertension may be risk factor for people who get infected with the coronavirus, experts says there's not enough evidence to support that fear.
NPR logo High Blood Pressure Not Seen As Major Independent Risk For COVID-19

High Blood Pressure Not Seen As Major Independent Risk For COVID-19

The coronavirus is especially dangerous for older people and people with other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and weak immune systems.

But are people who only have high blood pressure also in greater peril?

It's an important question because one out of every three Americans has this condition, which is also known as hypertension.

The short answer appears to be: People with high blood pressure may be at increased risk, especially if it's not under control and they have other health problems. But if their blood pressure is under control and they don't have other risk factors, they probably are not at any greater peril, experts say.

"It does not make a lot of sense that if somebody is otherwise healthy and young and they have hypertension alone, that they should be at increased risk," says Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer at the American Heart Association.

That said, Jessup stressed that so little is known about this new virus, everyone should take precautions to protect themselves, including people with high blood pressure.

"Whether we have hypertension or not, we all should be, obviously, following the instructions about social distancing and washing our hands and not touching our face," Jessup says.

The concern was prompted in part by a large study conducted in China. The study found that high blood pressure appeared to be an independent risk factor for dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

But Jessup notes that many people with high blood pressure also have other health problems, so it remains unclear how much of a role hypertension is playing in that elevated risk.

In addition, the research did not make it clear whether the apparent increased risk was among people whose high blood pressure was under control with medication or not.

There have also been questions about some of the medications used to treat the condition.

A letter recently published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine sparked concerns because some of the drugs affect a cellular gateway the virus uses to infect cells.

But the heart association, the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Failure Society of America issued a joint statement that there was no evidence that's the case. The groups urge patients not to discontinue their medication.