Welcome back to the COR BLOG, and we hope that the inaugural post on ACEi/ARBs was illuminating. Given the fear and trepidation that surround going outside and especially seeking care at the doctor’s office or hospital, let’s talk about how to keep your ticker healthy and happy during these most unprecedented times.
First off, let me just say that you absolutely are NOT in this alone. WE are in this together! The physicians at COR Healthcare in addition to our incredible staff are constantly working on processes to optimize your heart care, and we appreciate you being open to these changes, including the expedited adoption of telehealth. While the physicians and staff at COR Healthcare absolutely love seeing our patients face to face and making personal connections, the incorporation of telehealth has added a tool to our communication “arsenal”. Some tips to make your telehealth experience more enjoyable include: 1) making sure you have a quiet room for your doctor visit, 2) considering use of headphones or earbuds to enhance sound and listening, 3) having a family member help navigate your smartphone, tablet, or laptop if you are feeling overwhelmed by any technology hurdles. While trying a telehealth visit for the first time may seem scary or impersonal…give it a try and see how this platform can actually enhance the contact with your doctor and prevent delays in answering your important questions regarding cardiac care.
Next, let’s get into how you can keep up a heart healthy lifestyle despite the shelter in home order in CA. I’ll come out and admit that it has been a struggle for me to adapt to maintaining adequate exercise and conditioning during this time. I thrive in group physical fitness activities as both social interaction and friendly competition make the experience more enjoyable. That said, there actually are a lot of different ways to keep in tip top shape despite gym closures, etc. Walking outdoors is a great heart healthy activity and can be done very safely while practicing social distancing and using a homemade mask if you wish. Along these lines are other outdoor activities including jogging or cycling. You may also make it interesting for yourself by either using your smartphone or wrist pedometer to track your progress. It may not be feasible to have a home gym, but small inexpensive items such as a set of resistance bands, can be excellent on their own or incorporated into a routine. Many gyms and independent trainers have actually created free content that you can put on your home TV and work out from your own home. Additionally, this may not be a bad time to try your hand at yoga which not only as the ability to work your body but also help your mind…which we could all use at this point. In addition to exercise, diet is also a crucial component of maintaining heart health. While you may or may not be Julia Child in the kitchen, this is the perfect time to work on trying a new recipe online or watching a cooking channel to get inspiration on adding to your culinary flair and minimizing use of ultra-processed and frozen foods.
While physical health in all of this is paramount, it doesn’t dwarf the importance of maintaining a sound mind. Many studies have associated both anxiety and depression with heart disease and adverse outcomes. It’s a tall order given the current events surrounding us, but having insight into how all of this is making you feel is critical. Here are some simple things you can do to help maintain a healthy psyche…and heart…reach out to friends and family, try a Zoom meeting so you can “see” your loved ones, work on mindfulness with Headspace app, get some exercise, try your hand at an artistic project, or anything else that interests you. If you are feeling particular down or anxious, please don’t fall further into a hole and discuss this with your doctor, psychologist, or trusted confidant.
Last but definitely not least…if you are really sick…please don’t ignore it due to fear of COVID-19. The presence of this pandemic has caused us to limit elective procedures, imaging, etc to help curb spread of contagion, BUT this doesn’t mean that we expect heart attacks and the like to miraculously disappear…they inevitably will occur despite our best medical therapy. In these emergency situations, please contact 911 and get the appropriate care so that you may have the best possible of outcomes. Late presentations of heart attack and stroke can lead to irreversible complications and/or loss of life and can many times be avoided with early goal directed care.
Thanks for listening and we look forward to conquering this together.
Brenton Bauer, MD, FACC