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Tennesseans with hypertension are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination 

Understanding hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common and often hidden condition that affects people who have obesity or increased body mass index (BMI), a sedentary lifestyle, and diets high in salt and other processed foods. Hypertension risk also increases with age, tobacco use and alcohol use. A family history of hypertension can also increase your risk. While hypertension can cause symptoms like headache, fatigue, and blurred vision, it often has no symptoms at all. That is why hypertension is known as “the Silent Killer”. Over time, uncontrolled hypertension can cause permanent damage to the kidneys, heart, and brain. 

In Tennessee, almost 40 percent of all adults, over 1.3 million people, have been diagnosed with hypertension. Tennessee ranks third in the nation in terms of the percent of the population with hypertension. It is more common in men, Blacks, and older people. It puts people at long term risk of other health problems, including stroke, heart and kidney disease, and heart attacks. Hypertension affects heart health, which in combination with COVID-19, is associated with poorer outcomes, complications, and death.

Increased blood pressure is defined as anything over 120/80. The table below explains this in detail. 


Every Tennessean should know their numbers (blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar, and cholesterol) and speak to their physician about how to manage them to optimize lifelong health. 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Tennessee 

All Tennesseans age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Here’s how to get your COVID-19 vaccine: 

  •  Vaccines.gov. Enter your ZIP Code to find additional vaccination sites in your community such as local pharmacies and grocery stores. 
  • Contact your physician and ask about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at their office. 

Lower your BMI and decrease blood pressure

To decrease your risk of hypertension, improving BMI is very important. Even small changes to physical activity and diet can be helpful. Before starting any exercise program, please contact your physician for a health improvement plan. 

Additionally, changes in diet can help manage hypertension. Eating a plant-based diet, full of fiber, can help improve obesity. A diet low in salt and processed foods can help your body get the healthy nutrients that it needs as well as decrease blood pressure. Cutting back or stopping tobacco use and decreasing alcohol intake also are known to decrease hypertension. Small steps create big changes. 

Learn more about diet and nutrition on the Tennessee Department of Health’s website