By: Ugochukwu O. Egolum, MD, FACC
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow and evolve, it’s important that everyone understands what they can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, while also helping to slow the spread of the virus. This is especially true for high-risk individuals.
If you are over 65 years old, and you have a heart condition, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension or heart failure this means that you are a high-risk individual. While being at an increased risk does not make you more likely to get COVID-19, it does mean that you’re more likely to develop serious symptoms or to have complications.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, meaning it mainly affects the lungs, this virus takes a toll on your entire body, including your heart. When your body is fighting off an infection, everything from your immune system to your cardiovascular system has to work harder. However, this can be extremely taxing on a heart that may already be struggling due to heart failure or heart disease.
That’s why prevention is key, especially for high-risk individuals. Remember these simple tips to help prevent COVID-19.
Additionally, here are a few important tips for heart patients to keep in mind with COVID-19:
- Keep your routine. Even if you’re spending more time at home, it’s important to give your day structure and stick to your daily routine. Stick to your sleep schedule, take your medications at the appropriate time, eat balanced meals and keep up with other daily tasks.
- Stay in touch. Whether it’s by phone, video messaging or social media, stay in the loop with your circle of friends and family. Social support can make a big difference in mood, as well as mental and emotional well-being.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. While you may not be running out to the store as much as you typically do – or have the same selection – make sure to choose heart-healthy foods when you can. Stick with low-fat proteins, like chicken or seafood, enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables and incorporate healthy whole-grain snacks and nuts. Avoid foods with high sodium or saturated fat.
- Stay active. This isn’t necessarily the time to start a new form of exercise if you have a heart condition or you aren’t routinely active, but it’s important to keep your body moving. Remember to take frequent breaks from sitting to improve circulation, stretch your legs by walking around outdoors and as much as possible, and maintain your normal fitness routine.
- Know your body. There’s no one that knows your body – and all of its unique aches and pains – like you do. Make sure to monitor any ongoing conditions and watch for any new symptoms or abnormalities. During COVID-19, if you need medical attention, call your doctor’s office before showing up. Of course, in the event of a medical emergency, call 911.
- Schedule a telemedicine visit with your cardiologist. To keep all of our patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Heart Institute has rescheduled any non-urgent appointments. However, for some patients, a telemedicine visit may suit their care needs. To learn more about this convenient and comprehensive service, call 770-534-2020.