I have high blood pressure. What should I do to lower my risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19?

Answer From William F. Marshall, III M.D.

High blood pressure is a serious condition. Left untreated, it can lead to many other health issues. Health risks linked to high blood pressure include heart disease, stroke and dementia.

The latest evidence shows that people with uncontrolled or untreated high blood pressure may be at risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19. It's also important to note that people with untreated high blood pressure seem to be more at risk of complications from COVID-19 than those whose high blood pressure is managed with medication.

If you have high blood pressure, the most important step you can take is to manage it. Follow the treatment plan you've created with your doctor. Protecting yourself against the serious health issues that high blood pressure can cause is especially important with COVID-19.

Medication and lifestyle changes offer a powerful combination for preventing or reducing the health issues high blood pressure can cause.

Here's a reminder of the lifestyle choices that can help control high blood pressure:

  • Choose heart-healthy foods. Consider the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Decrease the salt in your diet. Aim to limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
  • Lose weight. Losing even a little weight can reduce your blood pressure.
  • Get active. Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and helps with stress and weight loss.
  • Manage stress. When you're stressed, you may cope in unhealthy ways that can raise your blood pressure. Try managing stress in healthy ways, such as deep breathing and meditation.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco causes blood pressure to rise and plaque to build up quickly in your arteries.

Lifestyle changes, taking medication, tracking your blood pressure daily — whatever you're doing to manage your blood pressure, stick with it. Don't change anything you're doing without talking to your doctor first. If you take medication to control your blood pressure, make sure to have at least a two-week supply.


William F. Marshall, III M.D.

June 30, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  2. Convalescent plasma therapy
  3. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  4. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  5. Coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  6. Coronavirus grief
  7. Coronavirus travel advice
  8. Cough
  9. Herd immunity and coronavirus
  10. COVID-19 and pets
  11. COVID-19 and your mental health
  12. COVID-19 antibody testing
  13. COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children
  14. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  15. COVID-19 (coronavirus) stigma: What it is and how to reduce it
  16. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine
  17. COVID-19 tests
  18. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  19. Coping with unemployment caused by COVID-19
  20. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  21. Debunking coronavirus myths
  22. Diarrhea
  23. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  24. Fever
  25. Fever: First aid
  26. Fever treatment: Quick guide to treating a fever
  27. Getting safe emergency care during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  28. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  29. How to take your pulse
  30. How to measure your respiratory rate
  31. How to safely go to your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic
  32. How to take your temperature
  33. How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
  34. Loss of smell
  35. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  36. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  37. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)
  38. Nausea and vomiting
  39. COVID-19 (coronavirus) drugs: Are there any that work?
  40. Pregnancy and COVID-19
  41. Coronavirus infection by race
  42. Red eye
  43. Routine cancer screening during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  44. Sex and COVID-19
  45. Shortness of breath
  46. Stay healthy during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
  47. Stay on track with medications during a pandemic
  48. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  49. Teleworking during the coronavirus
  50. Thermometers: Understand the options
  51. Video: Travel safely for medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  52. Treating COVID-19 at home
  53. Unusual symptoms of coronavirus
  54. Watery eyes
  55. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  56. Contact tracing and COVID-19: What is it and how does it work?
  57. What's causing my infant's diarrhea?