Much of the press surrounding COVID-19 focuses on damage to the lungs. Running out of ventilators has been a concern, given the number of COVID hospitalizations in the last year. Less attention has been given to how COVID-19 acts on the cardiovascular system.
How does COVID-19 get around?
From what we know about COVID-19, it binds itself to a certain enzyme in the body (ACE2) which happens to be located in the lungs. But this enzyme can also be found in the heart, gastrointestinal system, and in the nervous system. The virus attaches to the lining of blood vessels, which can elicit a clotting response.
Blood clots occur naturally in the body whenever we cut ourselves – this is how we stop bleeding. However, too much of a blood clot can cause problems. This is what causes strokes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and pulmonary embolism (where a clot in the leg has traveled to the lung). So while we think of COVID-19 as a “lung disease,” but it’s more than that.
What does this mean for you?
Our best defense against illness is a healthy diet and exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise (such as running, walking, swimming, biking) three times per week can make a huge difference for your heart health and immune system. Add this to your social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing and you’ll significantly decrease your risk of catching this nasty virus.
Remember, “Motion is lotion.”
As physical therapists, we use this phrase a lot because it’s true. We usually refer to bones and joints when we say it, but it applies to the cardiovascular system, too. The more you move, the stronger your heart and lungs will be.
Contact us today to learn more!