Keeping BP and Diabetes in Control During Covid19
The unprecedented global spread of coronavirus has led to a world-wide lockdown to help flatten the rising crest of morbidity and mortality. Out of the reports presented by the media, elderly people over the age of 60 years and those with underlying chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable to contracting the infection, experiencing severe symptoms and facing an increased risk of fatality. As per the American College of Cardiology, initial reports of the global pandemic show that hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases were the most frequent conditions in affected patients and case fatality rates tended to be high in these individuals.
The mortality rate in cases has been as follows (as on March 6th, 2020):
- 10.5% for cardiovascular disease
- 7.3% for diabetes
- 6.3% for chronic respiratory disease
- 6.0% for hypertension
- 5.6% for cancer
So if you’re a part of the population living with hypertension or diabetes, should you be concerned? Let’s first understand the link between high blood pressure and coronavirus and the connection between diabetes and coronavirus.
How Can Coronavirus Affect People With High Blood Pressure?
A weak immune system seems to be the major risk factor for coronavirus. Generally, ageing and chronic conditions like high BP can weaken the immune system, leaving the body susceptible to attacks from the virus.
Another theory is that hypertension treatment drugs like ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) can raise the levels of an enzyme called ACE2 in the body, which is what the coronavirus attaches itself to in order to infect cells . However, this is just a theory as there is inconclusive evidence to support this.
The coronavirus can adversely impact the cardiovascular system, which is why the infection is more dangerous for people with high BP, cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
High blood pressure damages arteries, causing the heart to pump harder to increase the flow of blood. If a person with hypertension gets infected, the virus can lead to inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle), weakening the heart further. The virus can also disintegrate plaque build-up in the arteries, increasing the risk for a heart attack in people with coronary artery disease.
Thus, any kind of respiratory infection such as the flu or Covid19 may pose a threat to the health of people with hypertension or heart disease.
Covid19 Care Plan For People With High Blood Pressure
When we’re talking about hypertension and coronavirus, people at risk need to take utmost care to prevent infection. The continuous exposure to information and overwhelming news surrounding the global pandemic may itself cause a sudden rise in blood pressure. Therefore, people with high blood pressure must take their BP medicines regularly to keep their BP in control.
Here are the precautionary measures they may follow :
- The Council on Hypertension of the European Society of Cardiology strongly recommends that physicians and patients should continue treatment with their usual anti-hypertensive therapy
- Keep over-the-counter medicines to treat a fever and other symptoms handy
- Stay at home, don’t go into crowded areas and avoid anyone who looks sick
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces like countertops and doorknobs
- You can also get a shot for pneumococcal vaccine and the flu vaccine as a preventive measure, of course after a proper recommendation from your doctor
Uncontrolled hypertension is known to result in cardiovascular complications like a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. Such patients may require increased access to healthcare facilities, raising the risk of exposure of these patients to infection. As the current healthcare system is focusing on effectively managing the pandemic crisis, any other cases at the hospital could end up potentially increasing the burden on an already overworked system. This situation can be avoided if hypertensive patients keep their BP in control by strictly adhering to their routine hypertension therapy and medication as prescribed by the physician.
How Can Coronavirus Affect People With Diabetes?
Similar to the connection between high BP and coronavirus, a weak immune system in diabetics puts them at a greater risk. Higher blood sugar levels can affect immunity and increase the risk of complications upon being infected by the new coronavirus.
Contracting Covid19 can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which is a build-up of high levels of acids called ketones. In severe cases, the body may experience a dangerous response known as sepsis. Diabetic ketoacidosis causes electrolyte loss in the body, making it harder to manage sepsis.
In order to treat this, doctors need to regulate your fluid and electrolyte levels.
Covid19 Care Plan For People With Diabetes
Diabetics should strictly follow these preventive measures to take care of their health and avoid infection :
- Stay at home and practise social distancing
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Don’t share utensils or personal items
- Before giving yourself a finger stick or insulin shot, it’s important to clean each site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol
- Stock up on healthy carbs like whole grains during the quarantine
- Add simple carbs like honey, fruit juice, or hard candies to your pantry to prepare for times when your blood sugar is low
- Ensure you have insulin refills, extra glucagon and ketone strips and other medications
- Call your doctor to ask how often you need to check for blood sugar and ketones and what cold and flu remedies are safe for you to take
During these trying times, it’s absolutely crucial not to panic and instead take all the necessary steps for your and your family’s health and safety. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage stress and follow your medication and treatment plan as prescribed by the doctor. If you think you may have coronavirus-like symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, or shortness of breath, get medical help right away.
For more articles on managing blood pressure and staying healthy during this period of self-quarantine, check out.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have additional medical queries, please reach out to your consulting physician/Doctor.