Insights on Vaccination’s Role in Protecting Hypertensive Patients from COVID-19

The role of COVID-19 vaccination in protecting hypertensive patients from severe outcomes advocates prioritization alongside blood pressure management. Research indicates that patients with poorly controlled hypertension face a higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, such as increased hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and ventilator support requirements. This situation underscores the importance of vaccination and maintaining up-to-date vaccinations for individuals with poorly controlled hypertension to prevent infection and its severe consequences.

Robert Walker MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Novavax, assesses the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing serious illness in individuals with high blood pressure and determines their impact on reducing the risk of adverse cardiac events, including myocardial infarctions and strokes.

“120 million people have hypertension, and only a quarter of them,” said Walker. “You know, there are other cardiovascular diseases and other comorbidities that put people at increased risk of all these things that we’ve been talking about, not just hypertension. So, the public health effect, the impact would be huge just based on the sheer numbers of people that we’re talking about here.”

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines was evaluated through pivotal efficacy trials leading to their licensure and further supported by 2 large database studies conducted aimed at understanding the vaccines’ role in preventing major adverse cardiac events among individuals with high blood pressure.

“We know that COVID vaccines are highly effective at preventing infection,” Walker states. “We know that from many studies that have been done as pivotal efficacy trials that lead to the licensure of these vaccines. We also know from 2 very large database studies, 1 conducted in the US, and 1 conducted in Korea, that COVID-19 vaccines can prevent major adverse cardiac events. And by major adverse cardiac events, we’re talking about acute myocardial infarctions and strokes. And their relative risk reductions have been shown in these studies range from 20 to 40%.”

Currently, in the United States, there are primarily 2 categories of vaccines: mRNA vaccines and protein-based vaccines, NovaVax, specializes in protein-based vaccines. The goal of both vaccine types is to elicit an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby safeguarding individuals from infection, illness, and the severe outcomes that can arise, particularly in adults.

“I think it’s important to have those conversations to understand the 2 different types of vaccines that are available, and also make sure that you’re staying up to date, you want to make sure that the vaccine you receive is intended to protect against the viruses that are the strains of viruses that are currently circulating in the community. So, the vaccine that we received a year ago, is probably not going to be the best protection for what circulating now. General good hygiene and good advice is to stay in touch with your physician, and make sure your underlying illnesses, if you have them are being well managed and appropriately controlled. All those efforts together, I think will do their part to keep people healthy.”

All in all, insights from Novavax and Dr. Robert Walker emphasize vaccines’ role in mitigating severe health outcomes. Ensuring vaccinations are current and managing underlying health conditions are paramount in protecting this vulnerable group. Through collective adherence to these strategies, we can significantly reduce COVID-19 impact on those with hypertension and the wider community.

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