In this uncertain time, it’s important to continue to stay up to date with your health, especially if you have a medical condition. Daisy F. Lazarous, MD, cardiologist with Adventist HealthCare, discusses ways to keep your heart health in check during COVID-19.
Managing heart health
It is extremely important to continue to manage your heart health during this time as those with heart conditions are at higher risk of complications caused by COVID-19. Taking precautions and continuing your normal heart care routine can help you keep your heart in check. “You can do this by continuing to take your prescription medications and if you are able to, monitoring your blood pressure,” explains Dr. Lazarous. Eating healthy can also help you manage your heart health by making meals at home, limiting your junk food and salt intake and keeping healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables at home.
Now is also the perfect time to focus on making positive changes in your life by creating new lifestyle habits. We are surrounded by so much negativity right now that focusing on bettering yourself can help to add some positivity in your life. Dr. Lazarous advises creating lifestyle changes by:
- Aiming to eat healthier
- Moving more
- Getting enough sleep
- Quitting smoking
Also find ways to reduce your stress as stress tends to weaken the immune system. Most people are understandably stressed right now with these uncertain times. You can reduce your stress by doing things that calm you, like reading, watching a show or movie, coloring or listening to music.
“It’s also imperative that you practice good health hygiene especially if you have a health condition that makes you high risk. Continue to social distance, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face especially your eyes, nose and mouth,” says Dr. Lazarous.
Stay in contact with your doctor
If you have a medical condition that you need to discuss with your doctor, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. They are here for you and want you to contact them if you have a question or if something seems off. “Please do not delay your care and understand that they are taking the appropriate precautions to keep everyone in the office safe,” explains Dr. Lazarous. Most doctor’s offices are also offering telehealth, so you can see your doctor from home without even having to go into the office.
Don’t delay care
If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, please do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the hospital for care. In an instance like this, you need to receive immediate medical attention. Timing is key for both of these conditions. Hospitals and emergency departments are well equipped and have been trained to take care of emergencies and our medical facilities are taking every precaution to keep patients from being exposed to COVID-19.
- Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
- Pain in your arm, neck, jaw or back
- For the symptoms of a stroke, think FAST:
- Face drooping
- Arm Weakness
- Speaking difficulty
Dr. Lazarous encourages physical activity to help manage your heart health by lowering blood pressure, stress levels and your overall well-being. While it may seem difficult to continue exercising when the gym is closed, you can get moving inside and outside your home. When the weather is nice, go outside for a socially distanced walk, run or bike ride around your neighborhood. You can even get the whole family involved and moving by playing basketball or soccer in the backyard, and if you have a dog, make it your goal to get outside and take them for a walk at least once a day. You can also use items in your home to complete an in-home workout by:
- Using the stairs in your house to get your heart rate up for a cardio workout
- Utilizing online workout videos to complete abdominal, leg and arm workouts
- If you don’t have access to weights, use water bottles as a substitute
Taking prescribed medications
If you have a chronic condition, you must continue taking your prescribed medications. “Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your medications or getting your medications. They can help answer your questions,” says Dr. Lazarous. If you take medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol or heart disease, these are extremely important in helping manage your condition. Especially as people are more stressed, possibly eating unhealthy or not getting enough exercise, their conditions could get worse, causing more problems.
If you have questions or concerns about your heart health, please don’t wait to contact your doctor. They are available to you, especially during this uncertain time. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, seek help immediately by calling 911. Medical emergencies haven’t stopped and it’s important to remember that hospitals are ready and available to treat you in a time of need.