Blood pressure levels went up last year, especially among women

We have lost over five million people worldwide to COVID. Not only did millions die from the virus, millions more are suffering from the health complications of long COVID. A study from a doctor at the Cleveland clinic found that blood pressure is up among Americans. That study used data from an employer sponsored wellness program of over 460,000 employees in every state. The results show that many people, particularly women, are now dealing with elevated blood pressure. Researchers believe that a combination of stress, increased drinking, lack of exercise and poor eating habits contributed to the rise. Below are a few more details from People:

The study looked at the results from an annual employer-sponsored wellness program that required employees to submit their blood pressure results. Using data from 464,585 people from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the researchers noticed that there was no change in blood pressure levels between 2018 and 2019. But in 2020, between April and December, the numbers jumped up significantly.

Normal blood pressure levels are less than 120/80, and in 2020 Americans had blood pressure readings that were 1.10 to 2.50 higher for the top number, and 0.14 to 0.53 higher for the lower number.

“It’s concerning because these sustained elevations can increase risk for things like strokes and heart attacks,” he said. Plus, higher blood pressure can lead to hypertension, a “silent killer” with no symptoms and something that around 100 million U.S. adults already have.

The researchers said that factors like increased drinking and stress, along with less exercise, are all likely causes of the rise in blood pressure levels.

“A lot of the factors that we saw — people going to the gym less, being more stressed, getting worse sleep, eating more poorly — those can all have a pretty significant impact on blood pressure,” Laffin said.

Both women and men had higher blood pressure levels, the researchers found, but the difference was more pronounced in women.

“We don’t know the exact reason for that. However, we do know and there’s data to suggest that the pandemic has tended to place more of an outsized burden on women, particularly women that work, and this is an employer-sponsored wellness program,” Laffin told CNN.

[From People]

The article mentions that the reason women are being affected more is because the pandemic has put more of a burden on women than men. Of course it did. Three million women left the work force in 2020 to take care of their children. I am sure dealing with kids all day and in some cases working from home were factors in elevated blood pressure. I am not surprised by this study. I know that my blood pressure has gotten higher over the past year and I didn’t even have children or a partner. Despite being a damn hermit, the isolation and inability to travel definitely caused distress. My situation wasn’t as bad as most. I didn’t have a job that put me at risk nor did I have family driving me mad.

I’m sure fear was also a factor in elevated blood pressure. I honestly believe we all are suffering from some form of PTSD because of the uncertainty and instability of the last year. I hope that as everything begins to open up, people have more access to the gym and that blood pressure will begin to decrease. I also hope to see more women going back to work while men take on some of the burden (wishful thinking I know). There will be another covid exodus, but it will be women leaving their relationships and marriages if they are not supported by society and their partners.

Photos credit: Cottonbro, Anna Shvets, and Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels, Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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