The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
ANDERSON — One in three deaths in American is caused by cardiovascular disease including heart disease and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The good news is adapting a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk and Community Hospital Anderson cardiologist Dr. Anne Ford offers some tips for doing so during American Heart Month this February.
The journal Circulation reports that 523.2 million cases of cardiovascular disease were reported worldwide in 2019, a 26.6% increase since 2010.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has raged, many have put off going to the emergency room for heart attacks or strokes. Both are cases where prompt care can make all the difference in a patient’s outcome.
Several months into the pandemic hospitals have ample supplies of personal protective equipment and procedures in place to keep staff and patients safe, so don’t hesitate.
Along with not putting off emergency care it’s important to keep up with your annual wellness exam.
“I always preach, know your numbers, know your blood pressure number, your fasting glucose number, your fasting cholesterol number,” Ford said.
“Those are key things as far as prevention of heart disease.”
It’s also important to get your body moving. There are plenty of paths for walking in the community including Shadyside and Mounds parks, where you’ll not only find flat wide paved paths but also staircases sure to get your heart pumping and your legs burning.
“I think getting fresh air, sunlight — that’s good for the overall mental health as well — so even if we can’t go to the gym, if we can bundle up and do some walking, making sure there’s not any ice on the path,” Ford said.
If the weather is keeping you inside, a search of YouTube will turn up hundreds of instructional exercise videos.
Diet is also important to heart health.
“I still value low carb, higher protein,” Ford said. “Choose snacks that have higher protein that are going to carry you further than just a carbohydrate indulgence.”
Isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic can also bring on stress and depression. Maintaining social connections can help.
“I’ve thought about just going back old school, actually picking up the phone to call people instead of social media and texting,” Ford said.
Quitting smoking, including e-cigarettes, can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
When it’s your turn, get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine, the cardiologist advised.
“Coronavirus can attack the heart and cause myocarditis. It can throw people into acute heart failure,” Ford said.
“We’ve also seen that, in the acute study, there’s increase in your clotting factor in the blood stream, so a higher risk of stroke and a heart attack,” she said. “Fear the virus more than the vaccine side effects.”
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