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How Heart Patients Can Maintain Vascular Health During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 08, 2020

By Dr. Mouhanad Ayach and Dr. Ali Irshad
Hartford HealthCare Medical Group

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, most non-emergency doctor visits are on standby. If you can’t go to the doctor, that doesn’t mean you need to put off your health needs.

Patients with vascular conditions, which affect the veins and arteries in your body, can have serious complications. If you fall into this category, there are some simple things you can do to stay healthy and give yourself piece of mind.

According to the American Heart Association, you should be getting 30 minutes of exercise per day, five times a week. This can still be done even while practicing social distancing. The exercise helps control medical conditions such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney disease and lung disease.

If you’re trying to quit smoking, don’t fall off the bandwagon because of the stress from the current pandemic. Smoking cessation is probably the most important thing we can practice to maintain our vascular health.

If you’ve been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, the risk of rupture varies depending on the size. You and your doctor should be discussing the safest course of action given the circumstances. But you can decrease your risk of rupture by aggressively controlling your blood pressure and COPD. You should also avoid smoking.

Signs and symptoms of a symptomatic aortic aneurysm include, but are not limited to, pain in the chest or abdomen radiating to the back or flank. If you’ve been diagnosed with a symptomatic aortic aneurysm and have any of the previous mentioned symptoms you should proceed to your local emergency room to be evaluated.

Carotid stenosis is a narrowing of the two major arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. To help prevent progression and to optimize treatment, you may need to take medicine recommended by your doctor. Controlling hypertension, diabetes and engaging in daily exercise can reduce your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Depending on the severity and character of your symptomatic carotid disease, it can be treated with medical therapy. You should consult with your vascular surgeon.

People diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease should inspect their feet daily. PAD is poor blood circulation to the legs caused by hardened blood vessels. Symptoms can range from cramping in the legs to gangrene in the toes or feet. If you suffer from this, be mindful of any injuries or ingrown toenails. Serious problems can lead to ulcers or even amputation. Avoid dry skin by using moisturizing lotions and wearing breathable, closed-toe shoes that are properly fitted for you.

Drs. Mouhanad Ayach and Ali Irshad are vascular surgeons with the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute.

If you have any concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should consult with your vascular doctor in person or through a virtual visit. For more information about virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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