The advent of the novel coronavirus disease Covid-19 has given rise to a lot of stress and uncertainty regarding health and well-being. While it’s true that heart disease and high blood pressure can increase your risk of contracting Covid-19, you can protect your heart during the pandemic. The main focus is to get into a proper routine and not let your guard down.
The ideal way to tackle your heart disease during a pandemic is to understand the spread of the disease. Once you know the cause and spread of Covid-19, you need to follow the precautions to keep the disease at bay. Just like any other healthy individual, it is necessary that you also stick to the simple tips that will help build your defence against the virus.
Seven easy tips to keep your heart healthy
1. Daily Exercise
To keep the heart disease at bay, one needs to exercise.Indulging in moderate intensity workout for 30 minutes at least five days is recommended by the World Health Organization for all adults aged between 18 and 64. This reduces the chances of not only CVD but also many other diseases such as depression, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, vertebral fracture and even colon and breast cancer.
2. Eat a heart-healthy diet
This means eating five portions of fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds in a day. All the processed foods like cookies, refined flour bread and pastas need to be slashed off from your diet. The worst culprit are the sugar beverages that we consume including soda and packed juices. In order to improve your diet immediately, the first thing you should do is stop consuming these as they are sugar dense without the fibre of a fruit.
3. Continue medications
Follow your routine of taking your daily medicines. Irrespective of the pandemic, your body requires the medications to manage your heart health and blood pressure. Consult your physician in case of any doubts regarding the blood pressure medicines and their connection to Covid-19. Do not alter the dose on your own. Stopping the medicines without discussing with your doctor is the biggest mistake.
4. Keep up with the current normal
The new normal demands you to stay at home, practice social distancing and seeking medical help as and when required. Follow these precautions to stay up to date with the current scenario. Prevention is better than cure and hence you need to follow the basic precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19. Wear a mask always, cover your face when you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, etc. are some of the necessary safety measures to be followed.
5. Trend of telemedicine
Given the current scenario, venturing out even for your doctor’s appointment may prove to be risky. Communication with your doctor and regular follow up is an absolute must. Follow the new trend of telemedicine and arrange for a video consultation with your physician. This helps manage your health goals, being regular with medicines and have a routine check done without physically visiting your doctor.
6. Seek emergency care when required
Going out during a pandemic is risky and not advised. But, in case of an emergency, do reach out to your physician at the earliest. Delaying this or procrastinating about visiting your physician when there is an absolute need, can prove to be fatal. If you are suffering from fever, chills, breathing trouble, loss of smell or taste, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, etc. seek emergency help immediately. Do not hesitate to visit the hospital during such an emergency. If you are feeling uneasy and having chest pain, do not sit at home fearing the pandemic. Rush to the emergency care and seek urgent help. Taking care of the issue early can prove to be helpful in keeping the complications at bay.
7. Emotional health and well-being
As much as the physical well-being is important to maintain heart health, your mental and emotional well-being also plays an important role. The pandemic has brought upon a lot of boredom, stress, mental fatigue and depression. Do not let it get to you and try to avoid negative thoughts.Avoid anxiety-provoking news and advice as this can constantly play on your mind and affect your health. Choose a recreational activity or hobby like listening to music, reading a book, solving crosswords, puzzles, sewing, painting, baking, etc. Choose an escape route out of the pandemic boredom and focus your mind to doing just that. This will help you concentrate on the better things and keep you relaxed. Physical distancing has been advised, but you can always meet your friends and relatives virtually. Video call your family and peers once a day or once in two days to take your mind off your routine. Plan virtual get-togethers and dinners so that you have something to look forward to.
Do not fear Covid-19. Stick to your routine and focus on your physical and mental health to keep your heart healthy and safe during the pandemic.
(Disclaimer: The author is Dr Salil Shirodkar, Senior Cardiologist, Heart Centre, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)