American Heart Association talks heart health amid pandemic

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:21 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - February is American Heart Month and experts say it’s a good reminder of all the things the heart does for the human body, and also what humans can do on a daily basis to care for their heart.

“Heart Disease is still the #1 killer of all Americans and South Dakotans,” said American Heart Association’s Communications Director Chrissy Meyer.

Many people have skipped doctor appointments due to the pandemic, but the American Heart Association says heart check-ups should not be avoided.

“We have seen people putting off their routine healthcare visits. You need to maintain those visits it’s absolutely vital,” Meyer said.

Avera Cardiologist, Dr. Sherrie Brooks, says you should be exercising your heart daily.

“If you can’t exercise, walk everywhere and always take the stairs instead of taking an elevator. Those are just simple things that you can do every day,” Brooks said.

Brooks says that your goal should be to exercise 150 minutes a week, there are also things to avoid.

“Not smoking is a huge issue. The other thing is eating healthy, and one way to do that is to not eat a lot of salt in your diet,” Brooks added.

You can also track your heart rate daily, “Just by taking your pulse, either by taking your fingers up in your neck or on your wrist. Your pulse should be between 60-100 (beats per minute),” said Brooks.

Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke are equally important, like a tight chest and shortness of breath.

Experts worry that pandemic stress and some quarantine lifestyles could have negative long-term effects on peoples’ hearts.

“The last year has been really hard on all of us, and it has been really hard on our hearts. We’re going to see an increase in risk factors for heart disease over the next few months, few years as we come out of this pandemic,” said Meyer.

American Heart Association resources for a healthier heart can be found here.

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