The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life, increased stress levels and made it more challenging for people to maintain overall health. However, taking care of yourself – and especially your heart – may better protect you from the impact of this virus.
“Evidence suggests COVID-19 patients with heart disease may be more likely to need hospitalization or even die from the virus,” Sayed M. Tariq Rizvi, MD, a Mercy Health – Springfield cardiologist, shares. “However, many of the cardiovascular risk factors associated with those more dire consequences are things we have in our power to change. People who adopt healthier behaviors can strengthen their defenses against COVID-19 while also reducing their long-term risk from cardiovascular disease.”
The top ways to start improving your heart health include:
- A nutritious diet
- Staying physically active
- Losing excess weight
- Managing blood pressure
- Controlling cholesterol
- Reducing blood sugar
- Quitting smoking
“Heart arrhythmias and blood clots have commonly been reported among COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Rizvi adds. “In some rare cases, it can cause inflammation in the heart muscle. Unfortunately, severe lack of oxygen due to COVID-19 pneumonia also causes strain on the heart, especially in patients who have had previous blockages, stents or bypass surgery. Fatigue, chest pain and shortness of breath are all symptoms frequently reported by patients who end up experiencing the effects of the virus long after their initial infection.”
It’s also very important to take prescribed medications and stay in touch with your health care provider about any issues you may be experiencing. Virtual appointments are a great way to keep the lines of communication open if you want to avoid visiting a clinic in person at this time.
February is American Heart Month. Learn more about the heart care services we offer at Mercy Health.
Also, stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.