COVID-19 and Hypertension

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Jonathan Dunn M.D., FACC

For the millions of Americans with hypertension, social distancing has also meant distancing from their health care providers. COVID-19 infection may be more serious among patients with hypertension. To make matters worse, most doctors offices are closed and many are scared to go to the hospital.

 

What is the relationship between COVID-19 and hypertension?

The virus enters human cells through a cell receptor called ACE-2. This receptor plays a key role in regulating blood pressure in the body.  Hypertensive patients can have more of these receptors in the body, leading to more severe infection.

 

Should I change my blood pressure medications?

The short answer is no. Some suggest that a class of mediation called ACE inhibitors increase the amount of ACE-2 receptors in the body, making patients more prone to serious infection. However, this has not been validated. We don’t know whether stopping this medication protects against the virus. We do know that stopping blood pressure medications can raise blood pressure and put patients at risk of complications such as heart attack or stroke.

 

My doctors office is closed. How can I manage my blood pressure?

Social distancing has complicated the doctor-patient relationship. While there is no consensus, many practices such as my own have transitioned to telephone or video visits during this crisis. I can get a lot of information about my patients by simply seeing them and speaking with them.

I do recommend that hypertensive patients check their blood pressure regularly. My practice offers a home blood pressure monitor. The results are sent directly to my computer via the internet. If this is not an option, blood pressure cuffs can be purchased from your local pharmacy.

 

When should I go to the hospital?

Hypertension is considered an emergency when the blood pressure is greater than 180/110 and accompanied by symptoms such as persistent headache, confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness. Many patients are hesitant to go to the emergency room for fear of exposure to COVID-19. However, in the setting of a true hypertensive emergency, treatment should not be delayed

If you have any further questions or needs, schedule a virtual telehealth visit from the safety and comfort of your home

To schedule a visit, please call: (305)666-4633 or visit www.mycardiologist.com

Jonathan Dunn M.D., FACC is a cardiologist in the South Miami area. He specializes in general cardiology, preventative care, vascular medicine and cardiac imaging. He has authored several peer-reviewed articlesTo schedule a visit, please call: (305)666-4633 or visit www.mycardiologist.com

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