Since the beginnings of March, the medical field has focused research efforts on COVID-19 and its effects on various groups and medical conditions. However, one factor that has often been overlooked is the stress that the pandemic has had on the general public, and more specifically, those dealing with heart conditions.
As the economic and social effects of COVID-19 continue to impact Americans, stress levels remain high. While stress never positively effects any health condition, this is especially worrisome for people with heart conditions who may contract COVID-19. Stress can raise cortisol levels within the body and increase blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Over time, these effects can drastically raise a patient’s chance of a heart attack.
“Many of the COVID-19 studies that have reported that patients with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease can have more serious complications from COVID-19 than those who do not have any pre-existing conditions,” explained Dr. Bhusri.
For those who contract COVID-19, studies have shown that 10% of people with persisting cardiovascular disease will die compared to only 1% of people with no pre-existing heart complications.
“For those already suffering from heart disease, contracting the COVID-19 virus increases the risk of heart attacks or developing congestive heart failure. COVID-19 causes inflammation within the heart muscle and increase troponin levels,” said Dr. Bhusri
When it comes to keeping stress levels low, Dr. Bhusri suggests:
- Take up meditation or yoga classes.
- Maintain an exercise routine, exercise has been shown to not only lower stress levels but help with cholesterol.
- Getting a full 8 hours of sleep, lack of sleep can increase stress levels.
- Seek help from a mental health professional.