How to keep heart healthy during Covid pandemic

Dr Sreekanth B Shetty
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Dr Sreekanth B Shetty

Highlights

The raging pandemic has hit all of us real hard and has changed our lifestyle, eating habits and almost everything overnight. Senior citizens with underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension

The raging pandemic has hit all of us real hard and has changed our lifestyle, eating habits and almost everything overnight. Senior citizens with underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension

and cardiovascular issues are more prone to get severely affected by the deadly virus. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) has been the top killer globally. With the outbreak of the pandemic, researchers have found a close link between Covid-19 outcomes and CVD. Likewise, it has been observed that Covid-19 could be associated with a high inflammatory burden, the so called inflammatory or "cytokine storm," inducing vascular inflammation, myocarditis, and cardiac arrhythmias. This is why it is imperative to be aware of the ways of keeping one's heart healthy during the difficult times of the pandemic which has already affected and claimed considerable lives.

Ways of keeping up heart health during the pandemic

Adapting to the new normal: It is essential to keep up to the new normal and continue practicing social distancing. It is wise to stay at home, practice hand hygiene and sanitisation and wear masks while stepping out, if required. It is best to avoid crowded places at the present.

Make use of telemedicine: If you already have some sort of heart conditions, make sure to stay in touch with your cardiologist. It is preferred to make the maximum use of telemedicine services and reach out to the concerned doctor via video consultations and make sure if you are hitting your health goals, taking medicines appropriately and more.

Continue taking your medicines: Do not listen to confusing news and do not give up taking your regular medicines based on these news. It has been already proven that there is no link between blood pressure medicines and Covid-19 risks. Therefore, it is important for an individual to continue their regular medication (blood pressure or heart-related medication) without any disruption or failure as that may lead to heart-related complications.

Follow healthy lifestyle habits: Make sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will amp up your heart's health. It is essential for one to stay healthy by eating healthy, exercising, getting adequate rest and monitoring blood pressure in case you have hypertension or heart failure history.

Signs you must watch out for Covid-19 and heart problems

Symptoms that you must be cautious about during the pandemic times include dry cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, muscle pain, new loss of taste and smell, gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.

Here are certain symptoms that may be indicative of a stroke or heart problems:

Chest pain or pressure, especially during physical activity

♦ Facial drooping on one side

♦ Arm weakness or numbness on one side of the body

♦ Speech changes, including slurred or garbled speech

♦ Loss of vision

♦ Severe headache

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing at night associated with:

♦ Leg swelling

♦ Dizziness

♦ Fainting

♦ Passing out

Eating healthy for a healthy heart during the pandemic

Include these to follow a heart healthy eating pattern:

♦ Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.

♦ A variety of healthy protein sources, especially fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart-healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.

♦ Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.

♦ Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking.

♦ Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.

What to do when there is an emergency?

In case of cardiac emergencies make sure you reach the hospital in time. The fear of COVID should not stop you from getting the necessary care for non COVID emergencies. The best treatment in a heart attack remains an emergency angioplasty. Prompt assessment of a patient with chest pain and a quick angioplasty saves lives. This does not change even in the background of COVID.

(The author is Senior Consultant and Head of Interventional Cardiology, Sakra World Hospital)

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