Increase in Blood Pressure Observed During COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in blood pressure (BP) observed for U.S. adults, according to a research letter published online Dec. 6 in Circulation.

Luke J. Laffin, M.D., from the Heart Vascular and Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study involving employees and their spouses/partners in an annual employer-sponsored wellness program operated by Quest Diagnostics. Participants had BP measured in 2018 to 2020. The annual BP changes for 2019 versus 2018, January to March 2020 versus 2019, and April to December 2020 versus 2019 were estimated. Valid data for each of the three calendar years analyzed were included for 464,585 study participants.

The researchers observed no differences in changes from the preceding year in systolic or diastolic BP between 2019 and January to March 2020. However, compared with 2019, the annual BP increase was significantly higher in April to December 2020. Compared with the previous year, the mean changes each month during the pandemic period ranged from 1.10 to 2.50 mm Hg for systolic BP and 0.14 to 0.53 mm Hg for diastolic BP. The increases in systolic and diastolic BP were seen for men and women and across age groups; for both systolic and diastolic BP, the increases were larger for women.

“Continued surveillance of BP among U.S. adults after the pandemic is needed to assess the permanence of the increases noted here,” the authors write. “Public health interventions reinforcing the need to address chronic medical problems, even during a pandemic, remain crucial.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, including Quest Diagnostics.

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