COVID-19 and high blood pressure
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- Studies suggest that COVID-19 can cause high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure can increase the risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19.
- In some cases, you can also experience low blood pressure after COVID-19.
COVID-19 and high blood pressure are intertwined in several ways. On one hand, high blood pressure increases the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, whereas COVID-19 can also elevate blood pressure. Those with pre-existing high blood pressure that fall ill due to the coronavirus also run an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.
Can COVID-19 cause high blood pressure?
COVID-19 and high blood pressure have been linked to each other in various studies. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition characterized by an elevated pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Hypertension is a risk factor for many conditions. Especially your risk of developing a condition of the heart and blood vessels increases significantly if you have a high blood pressure. Apart from that, a high blood pressure can also be a risk factor contributing to the severity of COVID-19 and the possibility of mortality due to the consequences of the infection. 1
High blood pressure can be caused by several factors, such as: 2
- Unhealthy eating habits: eating a lot of salt can cause a high blood pressure. A low potassium intake which you can find in foods like bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt, can also lead to elevated blood pressure. It’s important to avoid fast food and processed foods, as they contain high amounts of salt, and are low in potassium.
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity: being overweight makes it harder for your heart to pump blood around your body and deliver oxygen to the necessary tissues.
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Genetics: if you have close relatives who suffer from high blood pressure, then it’s likely that you run a risk of having high blood pressure as well.
- Age: your risk of hypertension increases with age
- Prolonged stress
COVID-19 could also cause high blood pressure, according to recent scientific research. Some people who already suffered from high blood pressure before having COVID-19 noted an increase in their blood pressure after the infection. Also, some people suddenly developed high blood pressure after COVID-19, without ever reporting high blood pressure before getting infected with the coronavirus. 3
The high blood pressure after COVID-19 was noted in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, whereas the diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats. The systolic number is always mentioned first, and the diastolic pressure last. Blood pressure levels are usually categorized as follows: 4
- Normal: less than 120 mm Hg over 80 mm Hg
- Elevated: 120-129 mm Hg over less than 80 mm Hg
- High: 130 mm Hg or higher over 80 mm Hg or higher
How does COVID-19 increase your blood pressure?
The post-COVID-19 high blood pressure could be caused by the affinity which the coronavirus has for angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Studies suggest that the coronavirus binds easily to ACE2, which is mainly present in the heart, lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. ACE2 plays an integral part in cardiovascular and immune pathways. The coronavirus causes a loss of ACE2, which increases angiotensin 2. Angiotensin 2 is an essential hormone in the body that causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels. This means that the smooth muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessels contract, which causes the vessels to get narrower. This reduces the amount of blood that flows through them. If this goes on for a prolonged period of time, it can increase the blood pressure. 5 6
Another critical factor that may impact post-COVID high blood pressure is the stress that COVID-19 causes. Studies have suggested that stress related to the pandemic may increase hypertension.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure caused by COVID-19?
A health professional can quickly assess whether or not you have high blood pressure after COVID-19. Measuring your blood pressure is quick, painless, and you’ll have your results immediately. Your doctor may also recommend following up on your blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor. Knowing whether or not your blood pressure is elevated is essential, as a high blood pressure often doesn’t cause any symptoms. This causes many people to be unaware that they have a high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, and eye-and kidney disease. 7
Lowering your blood pressure after COVID-19
Luckily, there are quite a few things that you can do to lower your blood pressure successfully. You can already achieve a lot through lifestyle changes, such as: 8
- Performing physical exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.
- Quitting smoking (read more about the effect of Smoking and Covid-19 here)
- Making healthy eating choices by limiting your intake of sodium and alcohol.
- Maintaining a healthy weight and taking measures to tackle obesity or overweight. Find more information here on how obesity can be a risk factor for severe illness due to COVID-19.
- Managing your stress through techniques like exercise, meditation, and talking to a mental health professional. Stress is usually one of many factors contributing to hypertension development. Still, it's vital to consider it as a significant increase in stress levels has been noted during the pandemic.
Besides these lifestyle changes, your doctor may also advise you to take medicine to manage your blood pressure.
- Taking rest so that your body can fight the infection.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and naproxen to help alleviate your symptoms.
If you’re at risk for severe complications due to the infection with the coronavirus, then additional therapy may also be available to you.
Can COVID-19 cause low blood pressure as well?
In some cases, COVID-19 can cause symptoms weeks to months after the infection has cleared. This is also known as long-COVID. Long-COVID symptoms may vary from person to person but could entail lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. If you experience these symptoms, you may have a low blood pressure, also known as hypotension. 10
This can occur due to a variety of factors, such as:
- Reduced blood volume
- Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This autonomic nervous system helps regulate vital bodily functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and digestion.
If you experience any of the symptoms of long-COVID, then it’s advised to contact your doctor for advice and treatment.
The relationship between COVID-19 and high blood pressure is complex and multifaceted, with evidence suggesting that individuals with hypertension may be at a higher risk of severe illness and complications from the virus. Some studies indicate that infection with COVID-19 could also affect blood pressure.
Q: How long does high blood pressure last after COVID-19?
A: High blood pressure caused by COVID-19 can persist for several days or weeks after the infection has resolved, depending on your overall health status, the severity of your infection, and the effectiveness of administered treatments.
Q: Does COVID-19 cause high blood pressure?
A: Some studies suggest that COVID-19 can cause sudden increases in blood pressure. COVID-19 can also trigger the onset of hypertension in people who previously did not have high blood pressure.
Q: Why does COVID-19 cause low blood pressure?
A: COVID-19 can cause low blood pressure due to inflammation, reduced blood volume, and damage to the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause high blood pressure?
A: There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause high blood pressure. It may be possible to experience a temporary increase in blood pressure following vaccination due to stress or anxiety related to the vaccine.