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Baystate doctor discusses ways to keep your heart healthy

February marks American Heart Month, so we are getting answers and breaking down the latest heart disease research.
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 3:59 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- February marks American Heart Month, so we are getting answers and breaking down the latest heart disease research and finding out how you can keep your heart healthy. Dr. Adam Stern, a cardiologist at Baystate, joined us to discuss what you need to know about heart health

A new study in the Journal of American Heart Association and it found that men who worry more may be at a greater risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes when they get older. Why is that?

Stern: “I thought that was a really interesting study. I think it’s associated chronic worrying, higher risk of diabetes, and higher blood pressure and other cardiovascular risks. I’m not sure they clearly identified the reasons, but one can speculate it’s probably due to higher levels of stress hormones as a result of chronic worrying, so activation of something called the autonomic nervous system, which can increase someone’s blood pressure and probably an elevation of cortisone levels, which can affect our ability to process glucose and lead to higher levels of diabetes.”

There’s also been research showing a connection between COVID-19 and heart disease. What is that connection?

“There’s a lot and I would group the concepts into direct and indirect affects. Certainly on a direct level, there’s a high risk of forming blood clots, which affects the ability to pump blood to our lungs, so if you form a blood clot in a pulmonary artery, you can unfortunately develop what’s called a pulmonary embolism, which can put a tremendous strain on the right side of the heart and affect our ability to properly oxygenate our blood and those same kinds of blood clots are probably more likely to happen in our coronary arteries, the artery directly feeding our heart muscle, leading to higher instance for heart attack. There’s also our levels of inflammation of the heart muscle directly called myocarditis and secondarily, any time, because of the connection between the lungs and the heart. Anytime the lungs are suffering and having difficulty oxygenating well, that can have a tremendous effect of the heart’s ability to oxygenate and pump properly. And lastly, there’s systemwide effects too. We don’t think of that as directly effecting the heart, but anytime there’s a huge surge in cases, like we’re facing now with omicron, not only in western Mass. but across the country, we had to really reorganize our bed structure at major medical centers and effect and even delaying certain elective cases and that can affect not only your ability to maybe get that hip replacement you’ve been waiting for, but probably also the degree which you that cardioversion for atrial fibrillation or the left heart cath you’ve been waiting for to treat your angina.”