Keeping Your Heart Healthy During COVID
The month of February has been designated American Heart Month since 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation. Every year, the American Heart Association (AHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other groups promote the importance of heart-healthy activities and diets. But this year, health officials are worried that the COVID-19 pandemic may have taken heart health a giant step backward.
The AHA notes several reasons heart health has been affected by the pandemic:
- The “potential harmful effects on the heart and vascular system, according to recent research.”
- “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have delayed or avoided going to hospitals for heart attacks and strokes.” That trend inspired the AHA to create a campaign called “Don’t Die of Doubt,” reminding people that “Hospitals are still the safest place for you to be when medical emergencies strike.”
- During lockdown, many people have been more sedentary than usual, and may be eating and drinking more. These behaviors all increase one’s risk for heart disease.
Are you at risk for heart disease?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, you are at higher risk for heart disease if you:
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high blood cholesterol
- Are overweight or obese
- Have prediabetes or diabetes
- Do not get regular physical activity
- Have a family history of early heart disease (your father or brother was diagnosed before age 55, or your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65)
- Have a history of preeclampsia (a sudden rise in blood pressure and too much protein in the urine during pregnancy)
- Have unhealthy eating behaviors
- Are older (age 55 or older for women or age 45 or older for men)
Each risk factor increases a person’s chance of developing heart disease. The more risks you have, the higher your overall risk.
Keeping your heart healthy
Fortunately, there are things we can all do, pandemic or not, to protect our heart health. They include:
- Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked
- Eat heart-healthy foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Get regular physical activity – every little bit helps!
- Quit smoking
- Get enough quality sleep
Despite the fact that vaccinations are rolling out, the stresses and restrictions caused by the pandemic aren’t going away anytime soon. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle will not only improve our resilience during this stressful time, but will also keep us healthier in the long run.
Remember, we at Community Physical Therapy & Associates are here to help you improve your physical fitness and overall wellness. We’re following strict COVID safety guidelines. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more.
The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor with questions about your health.