A healthy heart is critical to leading a long, fulfilling life. If you have a heart problem, such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, you’re at higher risk of severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, it’s critical to manage your current condition and prevent new problems from arising, and we’re here to help you do so safely.
Taking Steps for Your Safety During Appointments
You can come to our facilities for the heart care you need, and be assured that we’ve taken numerous steps to protect you and your health care team during in-person appointments. You and your physician can work together to protect your heart health, right now and well into the future. For some cardiac concerns, you’ll need to see your physician in person. Some tests can’t be done from home, and some conditions require hands-on treatment, like surgery. Your doctor can advise on when and how to come in for a visit or procedure.
We’re Taking Extra Measures to Protect You and Keep You Safe
We understand that you may feel nervous or hesitant about visiting a physician’s office, clinic or hospital. However, we want you to know that nothing is more important to us than your safety. We’re taking extra measures to protect you and keep you safe, and following guidance from the CDC.
You’ll notice these safety measures:
- Required face masks for team members and patients (we have enough personal protective equipment to ensure everyone has access)
- Separate care areas for patients who are sick
- Social distancing measures (e.g., floor markers and seat covers) in waiting rooms
- Temperature checks at every facility
These measures protect you and keep you safe, from the moment you enter a clinic through your consultation, test or surgery. If you have any questions about your health and safety, your physician can help. For instance, you might be able to have surgery in an outpatient facility instead of in the hospital, or even undergo a less invasive procedure.
Don’t Delay Emergency Care for Your Heart
The emergency room (ER) is always open to address life-threatening problems like heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. Our ERs are taking steps to protect you and keep you safe and address your emergency fast.
If you or a family member has warning signs of a heart attack or stroke or shortness of breath, please call 911. These signs include:
- Chest discomfort that feels like pressure, pain or squeezing
- Difficulty speaking or breathing
- Drooping in one side of your face
- Pain in your jaw, neck, back, arms or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness in one arm
In these emergency situations, getting care quickly can save a life. We’re here to address your emergency safely while keeping you safe in the ER.
In addition to heart-related emergencies, it’s also important to seek emergency care for life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19, including trouble breathing, bluish lips or face, and persistent chest pain or pressure. Call 911 and tell the dispatcher you might have COVID-19 so that proper precautions are taken.
Always Communicate With Your Physician
A good relationship with your health care team forms the foundation of your cardiovascular health plan. Whether you typically see a primary care physician, a cardiologist or both, reach out to your doctor about the best ways to manage your condition right now.
If you already had a procedure or follow-up appointment scheduled, your doctor’s office may contact you about how to proceed. However, don’t hesitate to make the phone call yourself if you’re unsure what to do or have questions or concerns about your health. Additionally, if you don’t currently have a physician, we’ll protect you and keep you safe in an in-person appointment with a new doctor.
It’s especially important to talk with your doctor if you have any warning signs of COVID-19:
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Sore throat
Additionally, don’t hesitate to call your doctor if there’s a change in the symptoms related to your heart health, like sudden weight gain, a racing heart or swelling.
Using Telehealth Visits for Heart Conditions
Many aspects of cardiovascular care are well-suited to video visits. Through secure, online communication, your physician can:
- Talk with you about your heart health risks
- Review your lab and test results
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Fine-tune your medications
- Offer advice on reducing your risk through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes
Your physician can also guide you on managing your health on your own, at home, in between visits. For instance, your doctor might recommend buying equipment like a blood pressure monitor and a scale. With these tools, you can take control of your condition, recognize warning signs that can endanger your health and take steps to act quickly.
Many of our cardiovascular health care providers are seeing patients — including new patients — in telehealth appointments. As you browse the list of providers, just look for the purple icon that says “Offers Video Visits” under the physician’s name.
Taking Care of Your Heart Every Day
Everyone — especially people with existing heart conditions and those ages 65 and older — should continue taking steps to protect themselves, the CDC notes. These steps include:
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
- Keeping a safe distance (6 feet) from other people
- Staying home as often as possible
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water
- Wearing your face covering if you leave home
Get the Vaccines You Need
To stay in good health and avoid serious illness, it’s important to stay current with your vaccinations. As a first step, you could ask your physician whether it’s time for your pneumococcal vaccine, and when flu season comes, be sure to get your flu shot. These protect you against viruses and infections that can damage your heart.
Manage Your Medications With Your Doctor’s Guidance
If you’re taking medicine for your heart health now, don’t stop without talking to your physician. That’s true even if you develop symptoms of, or test positive for, COVID-19.
You might have heard rumors that heart medicines like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) increase your risk for COVID-19. However, rest assured that these medicines don’t increase your risk of infection. If you don’t have symptoms, it’s important to keep taking your medications so that your heart condition doesn’t worsen. In most cases, it’s best to stay consistent with your medications, even if you do develop symptoms or have COVID-19.
If you have any questions at all about your medicines, your physician will answer them and help ensure your regimen is the best fit for your health. Your doctor can also help you get prescriptions and refills safely. For instance, you might benefit from getting your prescriptions filled via mail order.
And, if your financial situation has changed recently, your physician can work with you on minimizing costs associated with your care. You might be able to switch to a less-expensive version of a similar drug in your care plan.
Continue to Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
You can boost your heart health every day in a few key ways.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Eating a heart-healthy diet means choosing from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes and lean proteins.
Stay Physically Active
Exercise is critical for a healthy heart. Virtual fitness classes, treadmills or walking or biking can keep you moving. Your physician, rehab specialist or physical therapist may recommend specific resources for you.
Take Steps to Manage Stress
Take breaks from following news or social media updates to ease your mind and reduce stress. Schedule time for relaxing and joyful activities. Stay connected with friends and family members. And if you feel overwhelmed or anxious, know that it’s OK to reach out for mental health support.
We’re Ready When You’re Ready
We’re here to offer you the care you need for your heart through safe in-person visits. Because you shouldn’t delay important heart care, we’re taking extra steps to protect you and keep you safe at each of our facilities. Learn how we care for your whole health with our heart and vascular care programs at AdventHealth, and schedule your appointment today.