Study Shows How the Pandemic Impacted Blood Pressure

A new Cleveland Clinic study shows blood pressure increase significantly for U.S. adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those without underlying hypertension.

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CLEVELAND – A new study from the Cleveland Clinic shows blood pressure increased significantly for many individuals during the pandemic.

“We studied almost 500,000 individuals and we looked at pre-pandemic changes in blood pressure and during the pandemic changes in blood pressure to assess if some of the consequences of the pandemic would increase blood pressure and we definitely saw that,” explained Luke Laffin, MD, cardiologist with Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Laffin said they compared data from a three-year span and discovered blood pressure levels went up between April and December of 2020, which is around the same time stay-at-home orders and other restrictions were put into place.

He said they also learned it wasn’t just one specific age group or sex that was impacted. All of the participants saw a similar increase. However, women did appear to be among the highest.

So, what caused the rise in blood pressure? Dr. Laffin said they don’t know exactly but believe it’s due to multiple factors, like people living a more sedentary lifestyle, drinking more alcohol, stress and lack of sleep.

“It’s really important that not only doing the public health interventions that we recommend during a pandemic, like vaccinations, etcetera, but also making sure one is taking care of their regular medical issues, like their blood pressure, their cholesterol, their asthma — whatever the case is because those tended to be somewhat neglected, particularly in 2020,” said Dr. Laffin.

Dr. Laffin said they plan to continue their research to see how blood pressure levels may change in the future.

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