6 Tips to Stay Heart Strong and Healthy Amid COVID-19
Beyond following the tried-and-true measures to avoid getting sick, people with existing heart conditions, should take six additional steps to stay healthy and heart strong.
1. Keep up with heart-healthy habits
Just as you did before the current COVID-19 pandemic, focus on heart-healthy habits. Doing so will help bolster your immune system against COVID-19 and other infections. These habits will also help to slow or prevent your heart disease from getting worse.
- Choose heart-healthy foods and snacks (plant-based and unprocessed foods are good choices)
- Exercise daily
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Get enough sleep by aiming for seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night
- Don’t smoke or overindulge with food or alcohol
- Follow your care plan, stay up-to-date with vaccines and call if you have questions or concerns; use telehealth options if new symptoms or concerns arise
- Ensure you have at least one month of prescribed medication at home
- Maintain social distancing, but don't socially isolate yourself. Stay connected with family and friends
2. Continue taking your medicines as directed
Take your medications as prescribed unless you are told otherwise by your health care professional. This includes medications for high blood pressure and heart failure medications, including ACE-inhibitors (for example, enalapril or lisinopril), ARBs (for example, losartan or valsartan) and statins.
Be sure to check with your care team before starting any new therapy, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins or supplements. Also be sure to talk with them before stopping any of your current medications. There is a lot of misinformation swirling about certain medications or vitamins and COVID-19.
If you have questions, take advantage of telemedicine if your health professional offers it.
3. Maintain distance
Right now, maintaining physical distance between yourself and others and staying at home as much as possible are key, especially if you are older, or have heart disease or another health condition. The goal is to reduce your risk of getting exposed to COVID-19, especially as a vaccine is not available.
Social distancing will evolve once stay-at-home orders are eased depending on your work or family situation. Likely, you will still want to avoid crowds, non-essential errands and travel, and opt to work from home if possible.
But social distancing doesn’t mean you should distance yourself emotionally, socially or spiritually. In fact, we are learning—and it makes sense—that there can be real psychological effects of being away from friends, family and colleagues, including feeling tired, irritable, anxious and depressed. So find ways to stay connected with our tips below.
4. Wear a cloth mask when you go out
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face covering when going out to public places, such as the grocery store, pharmacy or other places where it might be difficult to avoid close contact with others. This is especially important to do if there is COVID-19 activity in your community. The advice comes as more data show that many people with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before they realize they are sick.
Non-medical masks should be used so that surgical masks and N-95 respirators are saved for health care providers and hospitals. You can make your own face covering using a bandanna or scarf. You can also get advice on how to wear and make one.
5. Have enough food, medications and supplies on hand—and ask about delivery
Try to keep at least two weeks of groceries and other essential supplies in your home during this time. It’s also a good idea to ask your health care team, including your pharmacist, if you can get a one- to three-month supply of medications. Use delivery services or ask about community programs that are helping older people and those at greater risk of illness.
6. Manage stress, stay connected
Minding your mental health during COVID-19 is important. Be sure to keep tabs on how you are feeling and share your concerns with your care team. It’s also important to stay connected to what matters and find time for calm. Try to maintain your routine and sleep at normal times.
Last updated: May 6, 2020