Heart attacks and heart disease do not stop for a pandemic, and neither should you. Maintaining your heart health has never been more important than now. People with heart disease and other medical conditions appear to be at higher risk for more severe symptoms or complications if they contract COVID-19. While scientists learn more about the coronavirus and how heart disease and other conditions interact with it, you can take these steps to maintaining your heart health today.
1.Check in with your doctor. Keeping in touch with your cardiologist is vital in managing chronic heart conditions. Many providers now offer video visits and phone calls so you can continue to receive the care you need from the comfort and safety of your home.
2.Take prescribed medications. With conflicting information about blood pressure medications and their connection to COVID-19 risk, you may be tempted to stop taking them. Do not stop taking your prescribed medications without discussing with your healthcare provider first. These medications can be critical in keeping you out of heart failure and preventing heart attacks.
3.Practice a heart-healthy lifestyle. Remember the basics. Eat a nutritious diet, exercise, get enough sleep, manage blood pressure, reduce blood sugar, and quit smoking.
4.Find ways to reduce stress. Managing stress is a good idea for your overall health. Social support is one way you can reduce stress. Stay connected with friends and family, whether it’s by phone, video messaging or social media.
5.Don’t put off emergency care. Seek emergency care for COVID-19 or heart problems. Be on the lookout for signs of a COVID-19 infection which include cough; fever; shortness of breath; muscle pain; new loss of taste or smell; or gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Heart and stroke symptoms could also signal COVID-19 infection. Watch for chest pain or pressure; facial drooping; arm weakness or numbness on one side of the body; speech changes; loss of vision; severe headache; or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing at night associated with leg swelling, dizziness, fainting, passing out.
Remember, if you think you’re experiencing a heart attack or other heart issue, don’t wait it out for fear of contracting COVID-19. Delaying care can lead to long-term health consequences and can put you at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. Rest assured that healthcare providers are doing everything we can to keep you safe including enhanced procedures for infection control and daily symptom screenings of staff and patients.
Dr. John Modica is a board-certified cardiologist and the Director of Cardiology Services and Intensive Care at Day Kimball Hospital. For more information on cardiac care available at Day Kimball Healthcare, visit www.daykimball.org/specialtycare.