The Place


Many people hit pause on their routine medical care due to the pandemic

Posted at 1:48 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 15:48:20-05

Many people hit pause on the routine medical care due to the pandemic.

But, the pandemic didn't eliminate other serious health threats like heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Christopher Valentine, Medical Director with OptumCare, says prevention is essential to managing good health. So, it's important to maintain routine medical visits, annual physicals and health screenings.

Dr. Valentine says many Americans have picked up some behaviors that aren't considered to be heart friendly. Those include lack of exercise, overeating or bad diets, and increased alcohol or tobacco use.

In the long-run those lifestyle changes can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Working with your doctor is the best way to modify or manager your risk for heart disease and stroke through lifestyle changes or by medication.

Heart attack and stroke symptoms are always urgent. The hospital is still the safest place to be, so don't hesitate to call 9-1-1.

Dr. Valentine says more than 1 in 4 adults experiencing a heart attack or stroke would rather stay at home than risk getting infected with COVID-19 at the hospital.

But, he stresses that health care professionals know what to do even when things seem chaotic, and emergency departments have made plans behind the scenes to keep patients safe.

As we approach the holidays and gatherings with families and friends, it's important to keep in mind warning signs.

For Heart Attack:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes — it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain. Some women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

For Stroke, watch for F.A.S.T.:

Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

For more information please go to