World Heart Day: Importance of taking care of your heart more than ever post-COVID-19

Presence of heart disease or its risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia etc. increases risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection. Pre-existing heart disease also increases mortality 10 times more as compared to the general population.

Updated: Sep 29, 2021 1:00 PM
world heart dayCOVID-19 pandemic has affected cardiac care due to prioritisation of health care services.

By Dr.Nikesh Jain,

Taking care of your heart was important even before COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has further stressed cardiac care as it is an additional strong risk factor for heart diseases.

Correlation between COVID-19 and Heart

Presence of heart disease or its risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia etc. increases risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection. Pre-existing heart disease also increases mortality 10 times more as compared to the general population.

COVID-19 infection also increases chances of developing heart diseases like heart attack, heart failure, more in patients with pre-existing heart diseases or its risk factors.

Patients are prone for heart attack even during recovery phase of infection and risk for heart diseases persists even for months Post-COVID 19 infection. Stress during a pandemic is also a major risk factor for heart attack, as pandemic has affected all aspects of life.

COVID-19 Pandemic affecting Cardiac Care

COVID-19 pandemic has affected cardiac care due to prioritisation of health care services. Patients are avoiding routine health visits due to fear of contacting COVID-19 infection. Patients are ignoring warning signs of cardiac emergencies to avoid hospitalization and present late with more complications. Routine health evaluation for picking up heart diseases early is hampered. Pre-existing risk factors for heart diseases are not kept in check due missed follow up with doctors.

Post COVID-19 Cardiac Symptoms

Many patients continue to have cardiac symptoms of chest pain (most common), dyspnoea, fatigue, palpitations even lasting for a few months post COVID-19 infection. Heart diseases especially heart attack continue to pose problems even a few months post COVID-19 infection. Persistent symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor and investigated as clinically indicated.

Tips for Cardiac care during Pandemic

  • Heart Healthy diet
  • Have low salt, less oily food. Choose cooking oil with more mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.
  • Have more water, fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid junk food, processed foods, refined flour (maida) products
  • No tobacco in any form. No alcohol consumption. No drug abuse.
  • Exercise regularly – home based exercises especially during pandemic.
  • Adequate sleep. Yoga or meditation for stress.
  • Appropriate use of Telemedicine for consultation with doctors.

Control of risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and taking medicines regularly. Cardiac evaluation with ECG, 2D Echocardiography, Stress test as advised by doctor should be done to pick up heart diseases early.

Be aware of symptoms of heart diseases and don’t ignore warning signs. Seek medical care immediately once cardiac symptoms appear.

Follow protective measures like wearing mask, social distancing throughout the pandemic. Finally vaccinate yourself and your dear ones with COVID-19 Vaccine.

(The author is consultant, dept. of cardiology at Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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