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Medical Minutes: Answers to frequently asked questions

High Blood Pressure

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Sarah Power


Managing High Blood Pressure During a Pandemic

Is everyone with high blood pressure at risk of getting COVID-19?

If you have high blood pressure, it is a good idea to take extra care to protect yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early research findings suggest that having high blood pressure if you are elderly could raise your risk of getting COVID-19. Also at any age it can raise your risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

What can I do to stay healthy if I have high blood pressure?

  • Follow CDC recommendations about social distancing, frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask in public and other practices that can prevent COVID-19’s spread.

  • Make sure you have enough medicine on hand to treat high blood pressure and other health conditions. Call your health care provider’s office before you run out of medication if you need refills.

  • Eat a diet rich in produce (fruits and vegetables).

  • Get enough sleep and find a way to relieve stress – both are good for the heart and immune system.

  • Avoid/Limit high blood pressure hazards such as over-the-counter oral decongestants (e.g. Sudafed), alcohol, caffeine, and excessive sodium (salt).

  • Monitor your blood pressure at home regularly with a digital upper arm blood pressure cuff and record your readings.

  • Get regular physical activity which is at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

  • Connect with others (but do so remotely)

  • Take your medications exactly as prescribed. Decreasing or stopping them could raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.

How do I know if I have a blood pressure emergency?

It is also important to recognize a blood pressure emergency. A hypertensive crisis occurs when blood pressure rises quickly to readings of 180/120 or greater. If other symptoms occur — such as chest or back pain, numbness or weakness, loss of vision, or difficulty breathing or speaking — call 911 ( From cell phones in St Thomas and St John call 340-776-9110 and St Croix 340-772-9111)

Finally, keep in touch with your health care provider and schedule a follow-up appointment. Many offices are offering telemedicine visits when possible.


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