Keeping Your Heart Strong Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s no secret that the pandemic has disrupted daily life. In fact, with all the added stress and the interruptions of routines, it’s become more difficult to keep up with regular heart screenings and checkups. As we learn more about the virus, we are gaining a better understanding of how COVID-19 affects the heart.
That’s why, especially now, it’s important to focus on your heart health. Here are some facts and tips to stay heart healthy during the pandemic.
COVID-19 AND HEART HEALTH FACTS
COVID-19 can affect your heart in many ways. Your heart and lungs work together to give your body the right level of oxygen. When your lungs are affected by a respiratory illness like COVID-19, it can cause stress on your heart. Because of this, people with heart disease are at high risk of severe symptoms and complications caused by COVID-19.
According to Beaumont cardiologist, Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan, coronavirus can cause an increase in heart attack risk, inflammation of the heart muscle and blood clots in the lungs. In some cases, heart injuries caused by COVID-19 can leave permanent damage.
KNOW THE RISKS OF HEART DISEASE
The first step to improve or prevent heart complications is knowing the risks of developing heart disease.
“Heart disease is a result of many factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, inflammatory conditions, depression and high cholesterol,” explains Dr. Chinnaiyan. “These conditions increase the risk for heart attack and future problems, mainly as we age and in women after menopause.”
TAKE SYMPTOMS SERIOUSLY
Your heart is always talking to you through emotional and physical signals. Use regular screenings and checkups to talk about how you’re feeling or schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any new symptoms. Go to your closest emergency center or call 911 if you have symptoms like:
- Chest pain
- Chest pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the legs
If you get COVID-19 and have high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or blockages, you’re at a higher risk for developing severe symptoms. If you haven’t already received your COVID-19 vaccine and booster, talk to your doctor about getting scheduled as soon as possible.
IF YOU’VE HAD COVID-19
Tell your doctor if you tested positive for COVID-19 and if your case was serious. Even if you’ve recovered from the virus, remember to get the green light from your doctor before returning to normal activities, like working out.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may require more tests like an EKG or MRI to examine your heart thoroughly. With the results, your doctor can develop a recovery plan that’s right for you.
Help your heart perform at its best by living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining self-care. Eat healthy, stay active and try to minimize stress.
“The most important things we can do this year to help our hearts perform optimally are to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, plenty of physical activity, and most importantly as the pandemic presses on - stress management,” says Dr. Chinnaiyan. “This can include a wide variety of things that can uphold a broader perspective, such as meditation, meaningful relationships, adequate self-care with respect to sleep and rest, and a sense of humor.”