February is National Heart Health Month, Covid-19 impacting heart health among adults

NOW: February is National Heart Health Month, Covid-19 impacting heart health among adults

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South Bend, IND. --- February is National Heart Health Month, and with the continued stress of the Covid-19 pandemic on many patients, health providers are seeing an overall increase in patients with high blood pressure.

“An increase in blood pressure across an entire population translates to more heart attacks and more strokes,” says Dr. Mark Fox from the Saint Joseph County Department of Health.

With Covid on the forefront of most people’s minds, Heart Health Month is meant for people to take a step back and look at the health of their most vital organ. The pandemic caused the cancellation of important doctor’s visits and people staying at home more, and this has led to blood pressure levels increasing in adults during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were working remotely, a lot of routine health care got postponed so maybe they weren’t seeing their doctor regularly for their blood pressure,” Dr. Fox says. “Higher levels of stress, more alcohol consumption, poor sleep, maybe irregular exercise, and poorer access to routine health care. All of those things translated into worsening blood pressure.”

Continued stress due to the pandemic alone has also contributed to the rise of blood pressure among adults.

“People facing job loss, or reduced hours, and things like that and trying to navigate all of those challenges of the pandemic,” says Dr. Fox. “The reported levels of stress have been markedly higher; concerned about finances, concerned about just how you juggle all of that.”

Along with protecting yourself from Covid, Dr. Fox advises that this month help you kickstart your routine doctor’s visits and making sure your heart is healthy.

“Let 2022 be the year that you get re-engaged with your doctor; to get your blood pressure under control, and think about the broader health risks,” advises Dr. Fox. “I think we’ve all been very focused on Covid, and so people need to get caught up on their cancer screenings, and their blood pressure, and their cholesterol.”

A small step towards improving your heart health could be adding heart-healthy foods into your diet, like leafy greens and whole grains. To see more heart-healthy foods, you can find a list here.

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