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National Health Alert: Pandemic-Driven Trends Raising Heart Health Risks

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OMRON Healthcare, Inc. today issued a national health alert warning of increased heart health risks emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, urging Americans to monitor their blood pressure regularly and take action for their heart health. Recent surveys found that millions of Americans canceled regular checkups with their doctors to avoid contact with the coronavirus, while studies revealed spikes in excessive alcohol consumption over the last two years, and nearly half of respondents reported weight gain during the pandemic – factors that can increase high blood pressure risks. OMRON’s national alert arrives at the start of May, which is observed as High Blood Pressure Education Month and National Stroke Awareness Month.

Core to its mission of Going for Zero heart attacks and strokes, OMRON Healthcare recommends regular blood pressure monitoring, active management of high blood pressure, and steps toward behavior change to address habits that may increase cardiac event risk.

“There was a heart health crisis before COVID-19 arrived, with nearly one in two U.S. adults having hypertension, and the pandemic has increased the depths of the crisis and the urgency for every one of us to address it,” said OMRON Healthcare President and CEO Ranndy Kellogg. “Blood pressure changes over time and can be significantly impacted by increased stress, alcohol consumption, and weight gain. Less movement during remote work can also factor into blood pressure changes. Even those who had normal blood pressure before the pandemic could now be in the hypertensive range, which carries increased heart attack and stroke risk.”

“To reduce your risk, know your blood pressure and monitor it regularly. Take action if you’re in the hypertensive range. Talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure and set a path to manage your condition and reduce your heart health risks,” added Kellogg.

Recent surveys found that one-half of Americans who had a scheduled in-person medical appointment missed, postponed and/or cancelled one or more appointments1 during the pandemic. Studies tracked a 21% increase of excessive alcohol consumption over the last two years, and a study found that 48% of respondents reported weight3 gain during the pandemic.

Those who were infected with COVID also face higher risk. New research by Nature Medicine shows that incidence of serious cardiac and cardiovascular problems was higher in the 12 months after people were diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to those who were not infected.4 Even the seasonal flu could impact heart health. Research by Houston Methodist, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows adults with hypertension and other heart disease factors are six times more likely to experience a heart attack the week after a bout with the seasonal flu than they are at any point during the year.

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