Staying Heart Healthy During the Pandemic

Like many peo­ple, your nor­mal rou­tine may have dras­ti­cal­ly changed over the past few months due to the COVID ‑19 pan­dem­ic. You may find your­self at home with lim­it­ed access to gyms, restau­rants, parks and more. Instead of sink­ing into unhealthy habits like exces­sive eat­ing and inac­tiv­i­ty, you can cre­ate new rou­tines that pro­mote your heart health from the com­fort of home. Car­di­ol­o­gist, Dr. Devin Patel, shares some ways you can stay heart-health con­scious dur­ing the COVID ‑19 pandemic.

Cook­ing

While you’re home and cut­ting-back on restau­rant din­ing, now is the per­fect time to take up a new hob­by – cook­ing. Cook­ing doesn’t have to be stress­ful. It can be a time where you relax, unwind and whip-up the per­fect heart healthy meal for you and your family. 

Some of the best ingre­di­ents to pro­mote your heart health include:

Berries

Types — black­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries and straw­ber­ries
Ben­e­fits – rich in antiox­i­dants which help pro­tect against inflam­ma­tion and heart dis­ease

Healthy fats

Types — almonds, avo­ca­do, nut but­ter, olive oil and wal­nuts
Ben­e­fits – rich in monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fats which are linked to reduc­ing cho­les­terol lev­els and your risk of heart dis­ease

Leafy green vegetables

Types — Brus­sels sprouts, col­lard greens, kale and spinach
Ben­e­fits – great source of vit­a­min K which helps pro­tect your arter­ies and reduces your risk of blood clots

Pro­tein

Types – chick­en, beans, lentils, salmon, tuna, turkey and egg whites
Ben­e­fits – con­tains nutri­ents such as omegas‑3’s, potas­si­um and vit­a­min B‑12 which help low­er your risk of heart dis­ease

Seeds

Types – chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds
Ben­e­fits – high in fiber and omega- 3 fat­ty acids which can help reduce blood pres­sure, inflam­ma­tion and cho­les­terol lev­els

Try incor­po­rat­ing some of these foods into your dai­ly meals and recipes for a health­i­er heart. To mix things up, you can cook a new heart-healthy meal for you and your fam­i­ly each week.

Sleep­ing

Good qual­i­ty sleep is key for pro­mot­ing a healthy, strong heart. Lack of sleep can increase insulin resis­tance and C‑reactive pro­tein which can cause stress, inflam­ma­tion and rais­es your risk of dia­betes and heart dis­ease. A good night’s rest decreas­es the work of your heart as your blood pres­sure and heart rate go down for a pro­longed period. 

For qual­i­ty sleep, it is rec­om­mend­ed that you aim for eight hours a night. 

Exer­cis­ing

There’s no ques­tion­ing the ben­e­fits that exer­cise has on your heart. When you ele­vate your heart rate from exer­cise it strength­ens your heart and lungs, result­ing in low­er blood pres­sure, blood sug­ar and cho­les­terol levels.

If you don’t have access to a gym due to the pan­dem­ic, there are still a vari­ety of ways you can exer­cise at home. Try to incor­po­rate 30 min­utes of activ­i­ty in your dai­ly rou­tine such as at-home work out videos, stretch­ing, walk­ing around the block or yoga. 

Con­nect­ing

Due to COVID ‑19, your social gath­er­ings might be lim­it­ed. While you may not be able to grab cof­fee or host a din­ner par­ty with your fam­i­ly and/​or friends, you can still check in on each oth­er through tex­ting, call­ing or video chat. Stay­ing con­nect­ed with loved ones can help man­age your stress lev­els which reg­u­late your stress hor­mones and heart rate. 

Mon­i­tor­ing

You don’t have to vis­it a doctor’s office to have your heart rate checked. There are sev­er­al ways you can mon­i­tor your heart health at home. 

Blood pres­sure mon­i­tor
You can pur­chase a man­u­al or auto­mat­ic blood pres­sure mon­i­tor to keep track of your lev­els. On aver­age, a nor­mal read­ing is less than 12080 mm Hg. How­ev­er, every­one is dif­fer­ent, and some peo­ple may expe­ri­ence high­er or low­er lev­els than oth­ers. Your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian or car­di­ol­o­gist can help deter­mine what is healthy for you. 

Heart fit­ness apps
Whether you use a Fit­bit, smart phone or watch, there are a vari­ety of apps that offer heart mon­i­tor­ing func­tion­al­i­ties. The most com­mon form of heart mon­i­tor­ing on a fit­ness app is your heart rate. The nor­mal pulse read­ing for adults is any­where between 60 to 100 bpm (beats per minute). 

Like your blood pres­sure lev­el, every­one is dif­fer­ent, and you may need to con­sult with your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian or car­di­ol­o­gist if you are con­cerned about your heart rate. 

Vis­it our Car­di­ol­o­gy page or sched­ule an appoint­ment with one of our car­di­ol­o­gists to learn more about stay­ing heart healthy dur­ing the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • I aim to incorporate the latest data and newest therapies into a patient's preferences and beliefs to develop a treatment plan that will work best for them. I believe a strong doctor-patient relationship facilitates this and leads to the best patient outcomes.