A recently published study shows that Americans saw their blood pressure increase during the coronavirus pandemic. A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic analyzed data from nearly 465,000 employees and their spouses who participated in employer-sponsored wellness programs.
They found that from April-December 2020, the blood pressure readings were significantly higher when compared to readings from the same period in 2019.
"Unfortunately, this research confirms what is being seen across the country – the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have long-reaching health impacts across the country and particularly related to uncontrolled hypertension," Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the American Heart Association's chief medical officer for prevention, said in a statement.
They noted that overall, women saw a higher increase in blood pressure than men.
"We did see more pronounced increases in blood pressure in women. Now, 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," lead study author Dr. Luke Laffin said, according to CNN.
Laffin said that the increase could be caused by a multitude of factors, including pandemic-related stress.
"We do know that in settings of chronic stress, really the changes in blood pressure are probably driven by some of the lifestyle choices we make when we're stressed," Laffin said. "So, we choose to have that nachos and beer, rather than make that healthy choice of a salad, or we don't get as much sleep, or we choose not to go to the gym, we choose not to take our medicine. That's probably how stress actually manifests predominantly with respect to increased blood pressure."