In recent weeks, we’ve seen news articles pointing out that with the outbreak of COVID-19, fewer patients have been going to the doctor’s office for other health issues. Because of social distancing measures, we have stayed home and skipped some of those check-up visits we may have otherwise scheduled. Health conditions like heart disease may be going unchecked as we wait for the spread of COVID-19 to slow.
Why are we talking about heart disease?
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. In our post-offer pre-employment testing for candidates, we take blood pressure and heart rate. While there is a range of normal values, if your blood pressure is above 140/90, or if your resting heart rate is above 90, your risk of developing heart disease increases. With our testing, we can catch high blood pressure (hypertension) in people who are young, generally healthy, and have no symptoms. As healthcare providers, we take your heart health seriously and will refer you to your physician to have your cardiovascular system checked, when you may not have done so otherwise.
What about recent weight gain? Is this a problem?
More than one of us has experienced a bit of COVID-19 pandemic-related weight gain. It’s okay! If you’re otherwise healthy, with gyms re-opening you’ll be able to get back on track and it’s nothing to worry about. But what if you had difficulty with exercise or health before the pandemic? Blood pressure and resting heart rate can also increase with weight gain. With a higher resting heart rate, your heart is working harder every minute to pump blood to all your tissues; a healthy heart can do the same workload with fewer beats per minute. Hypertension can lead to long-term problems, such as narrowing of arteries and increased risk for blood clots or stroke. But don’t panic! We’re here to help you.
What should you do?
The simplest thing is to start walking. Cardiovascular exercise at even 3 days per week can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease and jump-start any weight loss goals. Walk at least 30 minutes and once it starts to feel easy, walk longer or walk faster – you’ll want to progress as you get stronger! Small dietary changes can go a long way; reduce the amount of salt you use when cooking and drink plenty of water.
How can I check my blood pressure or heart rate?
Luckily, finding a home blood pressure cuff is easy (check Walgreens or Rite Aid), and you can monitor your blood pressure and heart rate with the touch of a button.
As we’ve said before, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Contact us today for an evaluation and we can get you going on a safe and healthy exercise program!