At the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare providers in the United States and around the world saw patients deferring their cardiovascular care. The result? Patients began showing up with serious issues that were difficult to manage. From dizziness and shortness of breath to pain, discomfort or death, poor heart health can have real consequences. Fortunately, some simple measures can help ensure you maintain good heart health, even during a pandemic.
Back to the Basics
With access to an abundance of sometimes-conflicting information, it can hard to know what to believe and where to start. However, when it comes to the recipe for good heart health, sticking to the fundamentals will keep you on track.
Keeping added sugar and salt intake in check is key to good heart health, and limiting processed foods is one of the best ways to manage this. Additionally, a diet that emphasizes whole grains, fruits, veggies and healthy sources of protein is key.
Inactivity-induced weight gain is linked to high blood pressure, an increase in bad cholesterol, and a higher risk for blockages in the heart and rhythm disorders. Regular exercise can help manage these issues. Unsure where to start? The gold standard for heart-healthy exercise is high-intensity interval training with weight training 30 minutes a day, four days a week. This combination works by torching calories (keeping excess weight off), improving circulation and building strength. If you have diabetes or an underlying health condition, consult your primary care provider before changing your exercise routine.
Seek Routine Care
Healthy eating and exercise habits are great ways to maintain good heart health. However, some individuals are predisposed to serious heart conditions. As such, it is important to schedule annual physicals with your primary care provider. Additionally, patients over age 50 and without a history of cardiovascular issues should get a calcium score screening annually to measure the calcium buildup in the heart and risk for heart disease. Individuals with an underlying cardiovascular condition should see a specialist at least once a year.
Apprehensive about seeking medical care during the pandemic? Seeing your doctor is safe. Ignoring your health is not. Because your safety is our top priority, the hospital and its clinics are observing strict protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID–19.
Know the Signs
Recognizing the signs of common yet serious heart conditions is one of the best ways to ensure you get the care you need, when you need it most.
- Chest discomfort that occurs with activity (feels like pressure)
- Jaw, neck, back, shoulder or arm pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Flu-like symptoms (common in women and diabetics)
- Swelling in neck or lower extremities
- Shortness of breath and/or fatigue
- Fluttering in chest
- Racing heart beat
If you or your loved ones experience the above symptoms, consult a doctor. If symptoms worsen or appear suddenly and acutely, call 911 for emergency care.
Whether you need primary or specialized care to maintain your heart health, Olathe Health is here to help.
See a list Olathe Health primary care providers.
Learn more about our cardiovascular services.