(04/13/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, scientists are learning more about who is most vulnerable to this new respiratory illness.
Many patients who become seriously sick or die have comorbidities, meaning they simultaneously have at least one other chronic health condition. This is a major concern in Louisiana, which has high rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
This serves as reminder of how important it is to eat healthfully — including moderating one’s sodium intake, which affects blood pressure, said Mandy Armentor, a registered dietitian and area nutrition agent with the LSU AgCenter.
With many people staying at home and cooking more of their own meals, now is a good time to establish healthier eating habits, she said.
High blood pressure is defined by the American Heart Association as having blood pressure readings over 120/80 mmHg when checked consistently over time by a healthcare provider, Armentor said.
“Hypertension is referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because people don’t really know they have it until they go to their healthcare provider for another reason,” she said. “There are no obvious signs or symptoms of hypertension in adults.”
People can manage hypertension by eating a diet low in fat and sodium, being physically active and, if it has been prescribed, taking blood pressure medicine, Armentor said.
“Even during these times, it is important for residents to take care of themselves, eat a healthy diet from all food groups and watch their salt intake,” she said. “Try to limit intake of overly processed foods and junk food, get regular exercise and take their prescribed medications to ensure they stay as healthy as possible and prevent any further health complications.”
Armentor offers these tips for cutting salt consumption: