(HealthDay News) — Hypertension is a risk factor for severe COVID-19, with a dose-response relationship for elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) with severe COVID-19, according to a study published online in PLOS ONE.

Holly Pavey, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the impact of hypertension, SBP, and antihypertensive medications on the risk for severe COVID-19 using data from the UK Biobank and linked health records.

Overall, 16,134 individuals tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, 22% developed severe COVID-19, and 40% had hypertension. The researchers found that compared with normotension, hypertension was associated with increased odds of severe COVID-19 after adjustment for confounding variables (odds ratio, 1.22). Elevated SBP showed a dose-response relationship with severe COVID-19 among those taking antihypertensive medications (odds ratios, 1.91 for 150 to 159 mm Hg versus 120 to 129 mm Hg; 1.93 for >180 mm Hg versus 120 to 129 mm Hg). Greater odds of severe COVID-19 were seen in association with SBP <120 mm Hg (odds ratio, 1.40). There was no association seen for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin-II receptor blockers with altered risk for severe COVID-19.

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“Hypertension is a risk factor for COVID-19; the association between hypertension and COVID-19 was amplified if the individuals were treated and their BP remained uncontrolled,” the authors write.

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