COVID-19 is dominating the headlines, but guess what? Heart disease isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, a new report from the American Heart Association suggests that heart disease is likely to remain the world’s number one killer for years to come. Many of those deaths may be fueled by the pandemic.
The report suggests that the pandemic may, directly and indirectly, exacerbate poor heart health. On the one hand, there is research suggesting that the virus can cause damage the heart. On the other, there are the lifestyle changes associated with living under lockdown.
Dr. Salim Virani, head of the report writing committee, said that poor lifestyle habits have become commonplace during the pandemic and will have a more significant impact on future heart health. Some of the factors that can have adverse effects on heart health include:
- Unhealthy pandemic eating habits
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Lower levels of physical activity
- Mental toll of quarantine isolation/negative news
- Poor sleep
- Fear of contracting the virus
Additionally, people living with heart disease may be less likely to go to the hospital for treatment and, in turn, suffer worse outcomes.
Heart-disease related deaths continue to rise decade over decade, according to the report, which is published in Circulation, the journal of the AHA.
All of this information means a few things for you.
One is that if you have heart disease, please remember to keep up with appointments and treatment. Delaying care could put you at higher risk for a severe complication.
Another is to pay attention to the things you’re doing each day, whether or not you have heart disease. Ensure you’re carving out time for activity and exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol intake, and controlling news and social media exposure.
The pandemic is taking a toll on your heart in more ways than you might think, and it could have long-term consequences. Do your best to limit the indirect effects of COVID-19.