Heart Health Month has Changed when Considering COVID-19

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Dr. Janet Seabrook

February is Heart Health Month, and normally, I would be sharing basic tips to improve your heart health such getting proper rest, cutting sodium intake, eating healthy and exercising. With a pandemic now in the picture, the landscape of heart health has totally transformed. Greater concerns have surfaced including the impact of COVID-19 on the heart with a particular focus on those suffering from cardiovascular disease.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, people with Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) are more than twice as likely to contract severe forms of COVID-19 than the general population. Research over the past six months has shown that blocked heart arteries or damaged heart muscles often weaken one’s ability to survive the debilitating stress and effects of COVID-19. In addition, a heart that is vulnerable may have trouble combating the effects of fever, low oxygen levels, unstable blood pressures, and blood clotting disorders, which are all possible impacts of the coronavirus. Those with CVD can also suffer from poor metabolic health. This can cause inflammation and the risk of blood clots and can make the impact of COVID-19 even more severe.

While the above scenario may sound bleak, the good news is that COVID-19 deaths are on the decline, and several vaccinations are now available for select sectors of the population. Currently, essential workers and senior citizens age 65 and older are eligible for vaccination. The distribution of the vaccines to the entire population undoubtedly take a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and loved ones.

In addition to the standard protocol of wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large gatherings, pay close attention to any symptoms that you may be displaying. Trouble breathing, persistent chest pains or pressure, chronic fatigue and loss of taste/touch should not be ignored, and medical attention should be sought right away. It is better to be cautious than allow the condition to worsen without intervention.

Time will only tell what the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the heart may be. In the meantime, I urge you to seek reputable medical sources to learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines, so that you can make an informed decision about how you and your loved ones will proceed.  I recently had my first dose of the Moderna vaccine and look forward to receiving the second dose in upcoming weeks.

Remember, information is power, and in times like these, it is critical that we pay close attention to the research, trends and available treatments. Your health matters!

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