As the COVID-19 pandemic is making its rounds across India, there has been a nation-wide lockdown imposed to combat it. This has drastically changed the way many people function and interact, as social isolation has forced them to step away from their regular schedules. Working from home has become the new norm, and this extended isolation period can affect one's health, especially those with pre-diagnosed cardiovascular problems.
This is because the COVID-19 virus targets the lungs, and the situation can easily get exacerbated in a person with a diseased heart, which has to work twice as hard to provide oxygenated blood to other organs. The virus also poses a risk for people who have a fatty build-up known as plaque in their arteries, as evidence indicates similar viral illnesses can destabilize these plaques, potentially resulting in the blockage of an artery feeding blood to the heart, putting patients at risk of heart attack.
Thus, it has become crucial for people to step up and follow certain measures to ensure safety and good health during this time. Along with the guidelines stated by WHO (World Health Organisation), there are also some habits that people should adopt, in order to maintain their heart health and overall fitness level. Some of these include:
(Also Read: 'The Quarantine Plan' by Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar May Sort Out Your Weekly Diet Woes)
Eating a healthy meal:
While it can be easy to slip into a habit of snacking on junk food while at home, it is important to make sure one eats a well-balanced meal. Heart patients need to be doubly careful about their eating habits in order to avoid further complications during this time. A regular meal should be packed with nutrients, carbs and vitamins. One should also focus on incorporating nuts, seeds, red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, along with turmeric and garlic into their diet. Care must also be taken to avoid processed sugar, and switch to foods that contain natural sugars. Heart patients should avoid oily/deep fried and spicy foods.
Continue prescribed medication:
Those with pre-diagnosed heart issues should routinely follow their prescription of medication for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, angina and others, as recommended by their medical consultant. They should be complacent with following these medical protocols under any condition, unless the doctor advices otherwise. It is advised that such patients should be in touch with their medical consultant on phone, WhatsApp, text or other mediums.
Conduct at home check-ups:
As heart patients cannot go for regular check-ups during this time, it is important for them to follow guidelines to monitor their health at home. Regular monitoring of their sugar and blood pressure (by a home BP machine) should be done and the results should be updated with the treating doctor, to ensure their health is kept under control.
Moderate exercise at home:
Exercising at least 5 days a week is ideal as it keeps the metabolism running. One should eat a light fruit or some nuts before exercise and breathing practices should be followed. One should also avoid sitting for long hours as it affects the body negatively by creating a build-up of stress in the joints, along with development of clotting in the leg veins. These can lead to clots in the lungs and other health problems. The best way to avoid this is to stay active by walking around the house and doing chores.
Get enough sleep and fluids:
As one is spending extended time at home, it becomes easy to be tempted to stay in bed all day long, and take longer naps. But it is imperative that they focus on regularising their sleep schedule and get the adequate amount of sleep required. Sleeping for too long can have negative effects on the body, which includes a heightened desire to consume excess sugary and salty foods, which can lead to further health complications. One should also stay adequately hydrated by drinking at least 8-9 glasses of water every day. This helps the body flush out toxins and maintains an efficient flow of blood in the body, which is crucial to transport nutrients to all vital organs, keeping them healthy and you too.
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About Author: Dr. Anil Ballani is an M.D, Consultant at Meyer Organics, and Teacher for Diploma in Diabetology with College of Physicians and Surgeon, Mumbai