ROCHESTER, Minn. - Just over 3 million Americans died last year and COVID-19 was reported as the underlying cause for about 11% of those deaths. However, heart disease and cancer accounted for even more deaths.
Heart disease has been the number one cause of death in Americans for years now and a growing concern among doctors is that it's happening in younger adults more than ever before. Dr. Mohamed Omer is a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic and he explained because the pandemic has put on a lot of stress for most of us, people are turning to binge eating or smoking, which can be linked to heart disease later on. "Some of the important signs you should pay attention to are chest pain, especially when it's in the middle of the sternum or the left shoulder and if it comes with exhaustion," he said. "The other thing is shortness of breath." Both of which are symptoms of COVID-19.
So what can you do that will help lower the risk of any of these illnesses in the future? Dr. Omer said you work out and you quit smoking. He explained prevention is key and to keep our heart healthy we need to stay healthy.
The battle medical experts are facing now is that COVID-19 is actually causing a delay in the presentation of some patients with heart attacks. "So some people having typical chest pain and manifestation of heart attack, but because people are trying to avoid the hospital, so they come very late," explained Dr. Omer. "This can cause a lot of trouble, like permanent heart damage. The other problem is that COVID-19 itself is a virus and can cause inflammation of the heart muscle."
All it takes is about 30 minutes of activity every day to get our heart healthy. That can be split up through out the day - whatever works for you and fits in your schedule.
Medical experts are predicting that even with the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed quicker than anticipated, the virus will likely hold a top 10 spot on this years leading causes of death list, following heart disease and cancer again.