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4 Ways to Support Heart Health After COVID

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Returning to an exercise program (or starting an exercise) is an important way to support your heart health.

Credit: StefaNikolic / E + / GettyImages

As we continue to live with COVID-19, researchers are learning more and more about the havoc it can wreak on the human body. Although COVID-19 was initially thought of only as a respiratory disease, it has turned out to affect far more than just the lungs.

In fact, more and more studies are finding that long-distance COVID drivers or people who continue to have symptoms long after being infected with the virus experience an increase in heart failure.

A July 2020 study at JAMA Cardiology performed cardiac MRIs on 100 patients who had recently recovered from the virus and found abnormalities in 78 percent and persistent myocarditis in 60 percent.

Another study in Circulation in December 2020 (conducted during the first wave of the pandemic) found that nearly 20 percent of people hospitalized for the virus had some type of heart injury.

More research needs to be done on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart, especially since we already have a heart health crisis in the US

Even before COVID, heart disease was the number one killer of adults in the United States and is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“When the pandemic peaked, COVID temporarily became the leading cause of death every day in the US, but heart disease is still the second leading cause of death,” said Steven Schiff, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory for MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at the Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “It will almost certainly be the main culprit again as the pandemic subsides in the months ahead.”

How COVID-19 affects the heart

Although there are certain cases where the COVID-19 virus can attack the heart muscle directly and cause damage, Dr. Schiff found that the heart is more likely to be involved as a side effect when the virus attacks other organs.

“When a patient with COVID develops severe and overwhelming pneumonia, their oxygen levels drop and their heart has to work harder with less oxygen,” he explains, adding that we still have a lot to learn about the longer-term effects.

According to Dr. Schiff, the biggest impact of COVID on heart health is not what the virus physically does in the body, but that the pandemic itself has led to increased fear of going to the doctor or hospital, which has caused people to avoid or need long-term care to delay.

“People with symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, including chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath, have stayed home for fear of exposure to the virus, which increases the likelihood of bad complications from heart disease,” he says. “The risk of staying home for fear of COVID-19 exposure is far more dangerous than seeking help.”

Richard E. Collins, Dr canceled or withheld. “All of this equates to a potential payback period for the occurrence of heart disease,” he says.

What To Do To Rebuild Heart Health After COVID

Grilled salmon, fried potatoes and vegetables on a wooden background

Fish like salmon are full of healthy fats that are good for the heart. Try to eat fish or seafood two to three times a week.

Credit: gbh007 / iStock / GettyImages

If you’ve had COVID-19 or are still recovering, heart health should be a top priority. However, it is entirely possible that your path to recovery will not be straight and narrow and that you will feel tired as you gradually return to your routine.

“Recovery times vary in different people,” notes Saurabh Rajpal, MD, cardiologist and assistant professor in the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Ohio State University College of Medicine. “While some people can recover in days, others can feel tired for weeks after being infected with the virus.”

Here are some of the ways you can restore your heart health while your body recovers from COVID.

1. Move as much as you can

While you may be sluggish, it’s important not to remain sedentary while your body recovers from the virus, notes Dr. Rajpal.

“Total immobility is a risk factor for blood clots and should be avoided,” he warns.

After a few days of rest, he recommends gradually returning to your exercise routine, with the goal of starting with 50 to 60 percent of your best capacity and gradually increasing it over the next few days.

“If you have symptoms like chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or fast or irregular heartbeat when you return to activity, see your doctor,” he says.

2. Eat a healthy, nutritious diet

You know the importance of a healthy diet, but you may not understand the critical role it plays in your heart health. In fact, a 2015 study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry, healthy fats, and moderate dairy products can reduce risk for heart disease by about a third.

When it comes to the list of foods to avoid, avoid anything that is overprocessed (think fast food or packaged foods with long ingredient lists), fried foods, or those high in saturated fats, which will lower your LDL levels can increase (“bad”) cholesterol, notes Michael Blaha, MD, director of clinical research at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

3. Keep up to date with all of your medical appointments

While it may seem an inconvenient time for you to see your doctor, avoiding preventive measures is never a good idea.

“This could lead to disease progression to a level that would not occur if people had regular medical checkups,” said Alexandra Lajoie, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California .

Aside from only showing up for these doctor visits, it is important to speak to your doctor about any symptoms you may have. Dr. Schiff recommends making sure that your laboratory tests are regularly monitored, especially for blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides, and that you see your doctor if you notice any symptoms of heart disease, including chest discomfort, shortness of breath, rapid, or irregular heartbeat.

The list of health effects related to smoking is one pretty compelling reason to quit smoking if you haven’t already – and heart health is one of them. In fact, Dr. Lajoie that the most important thing anyone can do to improve their heart health is to completely avoid smoking.

“Smoking is almost a guarantee that you will develop some form of cardiovascular disease during your lifetime,” she says.

If you’re looking for help quitting, consider these seven research-backed strategies and visit the SAMHSA website which has a hotline as well as multiple resources.

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Whole Grains Health

‘ABCs’ of primary and secondary CVD prevention have expanded over the years

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Blumenthal R. Opening session. Presented at: American Society for Preventive Cardiology Congress for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease; 23-25 July 2021 (virtual meeting).

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Blumenthal does not report any relevant financial information.

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The ABCs have been providing a roadmap for primary and secondary CVD prevention since 1999, according to a spokesperson for the American Society for Preventive Cardiology on CVD Prevention virtual congress.

Roger S. Blumenthal

Since then, the ABCs have been expanded and adapted to changing guidelines and newer evidence-based care approaches. Cardiology today editor of the Prevention Department Roger S. Blumenthal, MD, FACC, FAHA, Kenneth Jay Pollin Professor of Cardiology and Director of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, discussed these changes and more during his talk.

Heart shaped puzzle pieces

Source: Adobe Stock

Blumenthal said the ABC structure originated in the 1999 American Heart Association / American College of Cardiology guidelines for the treatment of stable angina, chaired by Raymond J. Gibbons, MD.

“We have modified the ABC approach to an ABCDE approach over the years,” said Blumenthal. “For this talk we added an ‘F’ for failure or heart failure as seen in the 2019 Primary Prevention Guidelines,” said Blumenthal.

He said that in its current form, a draft of the “ABCDEF” of CVD prevention would read:

A (Assessment and Aspirin) Adults 40 to 75 years of age should be routinely screened for traditional CVD risk factors, and clinicians calculate the 10-year risk for ASCVD using the pooled cohort equations. According to the presentation, low-dose aspirin (75 to 100 mg per day) may be considered in adults who have currently or recently smoked, a family history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia with statin intolerance, subclinical arteriosclerosis (coronary artery calcium Score>.) Have 100) or in patients with a 10-year ASCVD risk of at least 20%.

B (blood pressure) In adults with elevated blood pressure, including those requiring medical therapy, recommended measures include weight loss (if overweight), a healthy diet, sodium reduction, potassium supplementation, increased physical activity, and limited alcohol consumption.

C (Cholesterol and Cigarette Cessation) statin therapy is the first-line approach to primary prevention in patients with elevated LDL, diabetics or patients with a sufficient risk of ASCVD. In addition, nicotine replacement or other pharmacotherapy are recommended to aid in smoking cessation. All adults and adolescents should avoid secondhand smoke.

D (Diabetes / Glucose Management and Diet / Weight) Clinicians should encourage patients to improve their consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish to reduce risk factors; Replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; reduce dietary cholesterol and sodium; and minimize your intake of processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sweetened beverages.

E (exercise / education) – Sedentary behavior should be avoided and people should participate in 300 minutes of moderate or 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.

F (Heart Failure) The sequential introduction of evidence-based RF therapies, including ACE inhibitors / angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, aldosterone antagonists, angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors, and SGLT2 inhibitors, can reduce both the relative risk of death and the 2-year mortality rate is reduced by patients with HF.

“If you take our guidelines and put them in an ABC approach, we’ll start with pharmacists assessing cardiovascular risk,” said Blumenthal. “We also need to keep in mind that the ultimate decision rests with the patient on how aggressively we are drug management or how long we focus on lifestyle. Of course, the healthcare professional has to present the data in a way that patients can understand. “

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Serena Siddiqui: Shape Your Future Recipe Contest Winner

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AAs part of their mission to educate Oklahomans to make healthy choices, Shape Your Future (shapeyourfutureok.com) partnered with TulsaKids to find a young chef who can create a healthy, delicious recipe using fruits or vegetables. Shape Your Future encourages everyone to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal, and 9-year-old Serena Siddiqui’s creation hit the mark. Her salmon tacos recipe is a winning combination of lean protein, whole grains, and colorful vegetables that are delicious, healthy, and visually appealing.

Young people like Serena can point the way to a bright future for Oklahoma. The state ranks 47th nationwide for health and has some of the highest childhood and adult obesity rates in the United States. Shape Your Future aims to change these statistics by educating all Oklahomans about healthy choices. They want families to know that in addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water, children do 60 minutes of physical activity a day and adults 30 minutes a day. And of course, tobacco-free is always the best choice for a healthy lifestyle.

Serena used her passion for healthy eating to create this year’s winning recipe. Their unique twist on tacos combines omega-3 wrapped salmon with tasty spices and colorful vegetables to make it a dish worthy of family evenings!

TK: How did you come up with your award-winning recipe?

Serena: I thought about healthy options that we eat on a daily basis. I drew pictures of different foods and ingredients that I like: avocados, salmon, sweet potatoes, and lettuce. With the help of my mom, I created a recipe that not only tastes good, but is also healthy and easy to prepare.

TK: What did you learn from this experience?

Serena: I learned that eating healthy can be better than junk food. Almond flour tortillas are healthier than regular tortillas and taste the same!

TK: How did you develop your interest in cooking?

Serena: I watch my mother cook all the time and enjoy helping out in the kitchen. And in my mind I thought that one day I wanted to cook dinner for my family.

TK: What do you like to cook best?

Serena: Homemade pizza with my aunt.

TK: What is your advice to other children who want to cook and eat healthily?

Serena: Don’t eat out a lot. Eat vegetables and fruits at every meal. If you want to try something new, try it at least six or seven times until you have decided whether you like it or not.

TK: What are you and your family doing to eat healthily?

Serena: My mom and I go to the grocery store and she lets my sister and I choose the protein and vegetables we’re going to cook for dinner tonight. Our family doesn’t usually eat dessert – only on special occasions.

TK: What is your favorite place to eat in Tulsa?

Serena: My favorite restaurant in Tulsa is Olive Garden. I love their salad and breadsticks. I also like sushi from Sushi Hana and Sprouts. One of my other favorite restaurants is Amazing Thai.

TK: What hobbies do you have besides cooking?

Serena: I like to draw in my sketchbook. I also love reading and doing science experiments. My favorite experiment is making slime and trying new recipes to make slimes of different consistencies.

TK: What do you want to do in the future?

Serena: When I grow up, I want to be an astronomer because I think space is great and there is no gravity there!

TK: Who inspires you?

Serena: I’ve read biographies about Ellen Ochoa and Harriet Tubman. They inspired me because they were both women who changed the world.

TK: What’s funny about you?

Serena: This year I went to Hawaii for spring break and went surfing with my uncle. I loved it because I like to try new things even when it’s not what I want to do. I ended up enjoying it and can’t wait to do it again!

Serena’s salmon tacos

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 large tomato (chopped)
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ onion (chopped)
  • Chopped coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of salmon
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Almond flour or whole grain tortillas
  1. Chop the avocados and place in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander and chopped onions. Stir in cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze out the lime juice and mix in for more flavor.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place salmon on foil, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook the salmon for about 20 minutes until it flakes with a fork. You can also wrap the tortillas in foil and heat them in the oven.
  3. Take the salmon out of the oven and cut, chop or break into pieces. Put some of the salmon in a tortilla, pour the avocado salad and enjoy!

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Higher Levels of This 1 Thing in the Blood Is Linked to a Longer Life, According to New Research

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Grilled fish with peperonata

Being optimistic about eating these 9 foods (beans, whole grains, and salmon for victory!) And following these 7 secrets have been shown to help improve your chances of living longer, healthier lives.

And now new research is adding one more detail that certainly can’t hurt in our entire longevity landscape. A study published June 16 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Higher omega-3 fatty acids in the blood are associated with a 5 year longer life expectancy than their counterparts with low omega-3 levels.

We’ve known for years that omega-3 fats – the heart-healthy kind in salmon, mackerel, sardines, these 8 vegan sources, and more – can reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. And this study builds on the evidence that omega-3s are a boon to our health.

Scientists from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) in Barcelona, ​​the Fatty Acid Research Institute in the United States, and several universities in the United States and Canada spent 11 years studying data from 2,240 people over the age of 65 enrolled in the Framingham Junior Cohort. Their goal was to find out how the level of fatty acids in the blood could be related to mortality. Four types of fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids, contribute to longer life expectancy.

“Higher levels of these acids in the blood as a result of the regular intake of oily fish in the diet increases life expectancy by almost five years,” says Aleix Sala-Vila, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in Cardiovascular. of the IMIM Risk and Nutrition Research Group and author of the study. For comparison: “A regular smoker will reduce your life expectancy by 4.7 years, just as you would if you have high levels of omega-3 acids in your blood.”

A mere 1% increase in omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is enough to move the needle, confirms Dr. Sala-Vila in a research report by the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques in Barcelona. The appropriate intake recommended by the National Institutes of Health: 1.1 grams per day for adult women and 1.6 grams per day for adult men. For reference, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil is 7.26 grams, 1 ounce of English walnuts is 2.57 grams, 3 ounces of wild Atlantic salmon is 1.57 grams, and 1 tablespoon of canola oil is 1.28 grams.

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Related: Healthy Omega-3 Recipes

While they have yet to test this theory on a larger pool of people outside of the U.S. and with wider economic and racial diversity, Dr. Sala-Vila states that the length and scope of this study mean that “what we found isn’t,” It reinforces the idea that small changes to diet in the right direction can have a much stronger effect than we think, and it’s never too late or too early to make these changes. “

Whole foods are always the best choice over supplements, although the latter can help fill in the gaps if needed. Because oily fish is high in protein and recommends two of the stronger forms of omega-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA; both are easier for the body to use than alpha-linolenic acid), or ALA, found in plant sources) the American Heart Association to eat two 3½-ounce servings of low-mercury, oily fish at least twice a week.

If you think you’re shy, a quick home test like this Omega Quant Omega-3 Index Blood Test Kit (buy: $ 49.95, Amazon) may confirm or deny it. Just use the kit to submit a blood sample and you will be emailed your current omega-3 blood levels within a week or two.

Next up, doing this daily walking exercise can help you live longer.

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