Heart disease is the number one cause of death of men and women in the US and many other countries including the UAE (source). This health issue has been a global challenge most especially now that people with risk of heart disease – people with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity – are more vulnerable than ever because of the pandemic. This situation is aggravated by the fear of getting the virus when people who are experiencing heart disease symptoms visit the hospital.
This, including other rumors spreading related to the effects of COVID19 on heart health, are the things Dr. Estelle Jean, board certified cardiologist at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, clarified to spread awareness to people about what should really be of a concern than those that only creates negativity and confusion in lifestyle choices and medical decisions.
FACT: CHRONIC ANXIETY INCREASES THE RISK FACTOR OF HEART DISEASE
Stress increases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and can impact a person’s heart pressure and heart rate. Also, Barry Jacobs, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and director of Behavioral Sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, Pa, recommended that depression that mostly comes after a case of stroke must be monitored by the family of the patients.
FACT: COVID19 PATIENTS MAY EXPERIENCE STROKES AND SEIZURES
Some of the symptoms or warning signs of stroke that are also experienced by COVID19 patients are confusion and sudden headache. These call out for vigilance to call for medical help whenever a patient develops these neurological symptoms.
MYTH: IT IS SAFER TO STAY AT HOME THAN VISITING THE HOSPITAL
People with chronic illness or those who have the symptoms of heart disease are more receptive to COVID19. Knowing these risk factors causes the patients to just stay at home and not seek for medical help even if they need to. The ongoing fear of getting the viral infection when visiting the hospital can cause greater danger for these patients because the more the symptoms are not treated, the higher the risk of getting severely ill from COVID19. Hence, Dr. Estelle strongly advises to always stay connected within the healthcare system and do not delay care.
MYTH: WHAT I AM FEELING IS PROBABLY NOTHING
Experiencing shortness of breath; chest pain; numbness or pain on one arm, neck, or jaw; vomiting; and diarrhea are some of the symptoms of a heart attack. Ignoring these symptoms can cause worsening of your condition and the worst death.
What are the two things you should know for having better heart health and mental wellbeing during the pandemic?:
ONE | Help is always there
Remember that healthcare facilities have been here even before the pandemic. As the American Heart Association (AHA) says, healthcare workers are trained to help multiple emergency medical cases. They are committed to saving anybody’s life and that means that no medical condition or disease is unprioritized.
TWO | Nothing is better than knowing what is a fact and fiction
Here is an amazing illustration by the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to misinformation spreads and how to avoid it.