‘The number of emergencies has tripled’: The importance of cardiovascular health amid the pandemic

The importance of cardiovascular health amid the pandemic

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - February is American Heart Month and focusing on your heart health has never been more important. Studies show people with poor cardiovascular health are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, but that’s only part of the COVID-heart dilemma.

There’s nothing Warren Record likes more than spending time with his family, but he and his wife, Sandi, are among those taking COVID-19 very seriously.

“The idea of staying out of contact with people and waiting to do things I enjoy is terribly conflicting; but I’m constantly reminded the best chance my wife and I had was to minimize contact with people.” said Record.

And that’s what they’ve done, avoiding restaurants and events, rarely seeing family, and always wearing masks and taking precautions.

In addition to Record being 73-years-old, he has a heart disease. He was diagnosed six years ago. His symptoms caught him by surprise while he was fishing in the gulf 50 miles off shore.

“Don’t wait until you have an event to get involved with a cardiologist.” said Record.

He feels very fortunate to have survived the ordeal, and doctors were able to open his blockages with stents. Now, he feels great and wants to keep it that way.

“Best way to protect yourself from COVID is to quarantine yourself.” said Record.

His cardiologist, Dr. Antoine Rizk from Memorial Hospital at Gulfport said Record’s heightened concerns are right on target.

A closer look at heart disease risk with Dr. Antoine Rizk

“Essentially patients that have heart disease are susceptible to more severe form of infection once they get the coronavirus.” said Record.

Infections that can lead to more heart damage and serious complications. But while it’s important to protect yourself from COVID-19 Dr. Rizk said it’s also critical to take care of your other health issues during the pandemic.

He said far too many people delay seeking treatment for heart attack symptoms, due to fear of catching COVID at the hospital, and that can be a deadly mistake.

“The number of emergencies has tripled or quadrupled,” said Rizk.

The American College of Cardiology recognized that acute heart attacks are up three times because people are delaying or not seeking treatment. Also, mortality is up because they’re presenting to the hospital very late.

“If you really need medical attention, cardiac or otherwise, you shouldn’t delay because that fear of getting COVID at the hospital is not rational.” said Dr. Rizk.

Record takes precautions but sees doctors when needed.

“Every time I consider taking a new drug or exercise routine I contact Tony and ask him where should we go with this.” said Record.

And now they’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“No question, the salvation is the vaccine.”

Record has an appointment for his first vaccine scheduled; and he and his wife can’t wait to get back to a more normal routine, in a safe way.

“I fully intend to do all the retired grandfather things and aggravate them as much as I possibly can.” said Record.

A growing number of studies suggest many COVID-19 survivors experience some type of heart damage, even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease

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