Four in 10 Americans say they’ve had at least one heart-related issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, and about one in four who have tested positive say COVID has affected their heart health, according to a new online poll.
Shortness of breath (18%), dizziness (15%), higher blood pressure (15%) and chest pain (13%) were the top problems reported in the survey of 1,000 American adults.
“COVID fatigue is a very real thing – and for this year’s survey we wanted to see what kind of effect the ongoing pandemic is having on Americans’ heart health and in particular their healthy habits,” says Dr. Samir Kapadia, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, which conducted the poll.
“We know 90% of heart disease is preventable through a healthier diet, regular exercise, and not smoking, so now is the time to refocus on our heart health,” he added in a clinic news release.
What the poll shows
As the pandemic nears its second anniversary, the poll found that one habit, in particular, was on the rise. More Americans are glued to their chairs, and walking has declined. In all, 77% of respondents said they often or sometimes sit throughout the day.
Overall, four in 10 respondents who have lost a family member to heart disease before age 60 have never been screened for the condition that caused their loved one’s death. But the rate of screening was higher (54%) among millennials.
And one-third of respondents said that even if they have a family history of heart disease, there is nothing they can do to reduce their risk. But doctors say early screening and treatment can save lives.
How to prevent heart issues
The first step in preventing any potential heart-related issues is finding out your risk. Finding out your risk will help you understand the state of your heart and the best way to keep it healthy.
Your doctor can help aid you in determining your risk factors and setting goals to lower your risk. If you are unsure of where to start the conversation, the following questions can give you some important insight into your heart’s health:
What is my risk for heart disease?
What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what do I need to do about it?
What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides.) What do they mean for me, and what do I need to do about them?
What are my body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement? Do they indicate that I need to lose weight for my health?
What is my blood sugar level? Does it mean I’m at risk for diabetes?
What other screening tests for heart disease do I need? How often should I return for checkups for my heart health?
For smokers: What can you do to help me quit smoking?
How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart? What kinds of activities are helpful?
What is a heart healthy eating plan for me? Should I see a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist to learn more about healthy eating?
How can I tell if I’m having a heart attack? (BlackDoctor.org by Cara Jones)