- Written by Matt Chandler
The Hidden Danger of COVID-19: Ignoring other illnesses can be deadly during the pandemic
Heart attacks and strokes don’t care about COVID-19. They just keep on coming.
Unfortunately, there is anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of people are delaying seeking care for symptoms during COVID-19. That can be a real problem, according to Great Lakes Cardiovascular Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Vijay Iyer.
When we are talking about certain cardiac episodes, the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes,” he says. “Delaying treatment can be a fatal decision.”
There appear to be two primary reasons people would delay seeking medical care for non-COVID-19 symptoms during the pandemic. First, there is the altruistic belief that they would be taking a bed away from someone who needs it more than they do.
“People need to leave decisions like that to the medical professionals,” Dr. Iyer says. “We assess every patient, and we admit people who have a need for urgent care, so if a doctor admits you to a hospital, it is because you need that level of care, there is no more or less than the next person.”
Additionally, in most parts of the country outside of New York City, social distancing has led to a flattening of the curve, and hospitals have the capacity to admit patients as needed. The shortage of beds that was expected early on, and was seen in some communities, is now much better.
Even if there was a shortage in beds, Dr. Iyer says that’s no reason to delay or skip treatment.
“Calling and coming in to be examined still gives us the opportunity to assess your condition and take action outside of hospitalization,” he says. We treat many patients in the office, and there may be simple medications we can prescribe to help. But we don’t know that if a patient doesn’t reach out.”
The second, more common reason, is simply fear. Erie County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. Governor Cuomo issued and reissued a Stay in Place Order. People are required to wear a mask in public. There is an understandable level of fear in the community and for many patients, that translates into a hesitation to go to a doctor’s office or hospital for fear of being exposed to the virus. While there is no guarantee, Dr. Iyer says healthcare providers across the community have done an outstanding job of implementing measures to keep patients and staff safe.
“We are part of General Physician, PC and together we have more than 70 offices,” Dr. Iyer says. “At every office, we took immediate and comprehensive steps to ensure everyone who comes through our doors is safe.”
Dr. Richard Charles is the Chief Medical Officer of General Physician, PC. He says those steps included increased training for staff and providers as soon as COVID-19 broke.
“Keeping our patients safe during this time begins with keeping our staff safe and making sure they have the education and the tools to execute best practices in all offices,” he says.
Dr. Charles says at every General Physician, PC and Great Lakes Cardiovascular office, the following safety precautions have been implemented:
No one is allowed to enter an office without having their temperature taken (fever is a primary symptom of COVID-19).
Access is retracted to employees, patients, and their caregivers only. No outside vendors or visitors are allowed in any office.
All staff and providers wear personal protective equipment.
Many offices offer video and telephone visits for added safety.
“We understand the apprehension our patients feel, and we have taken every step possible to mitigate any risk for those individuals visiting our offices,” he says.
Dr. Iyer says the same is true for the hospitals he cares for patients in — each is operating at a heightened level of safety and patient protection.
“The advice I give my patients today is the same as it was before COVID-19 and the same it will be after COVID-19,” he says. “If you feel something, say something. If you have symptoms, call your doctor or hospital. It could absolutely save your life.”
Dr. Vijay Iyer has offices in Buffalo and Olean. To schedule an appointment at any Great Lakes Cardiovascular office, call 716.710.8266.
- Written by Kelly Cardamone, MS, RDN, CDCES, CDN, IFNCP
The Summer season is finally here! While many people have been emotional and stress-eating, as well as skipping physical activity during COVID-19, warm weather, sunshine, and fresh produce of the season offer you the perfect opportunity to make positive, healthy lifestyle changes.
Now is the perfect time to retrain your body and taste buds, particularly if you have been munching on sweets and snack foods like chips or pretzels over the last few months. Take advantage of the abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables, aiming for 1-2 pieces of fruit and at least 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. Fruit is a naturally sweet snack that comes with unique health benefits and phytonutrients. This time of year, WNY farms are brimming with U-pick strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. The summer months also boast an abundance and variety of homegrown vegetables. Try incorporating 2-3 vegetarian dinners a week. Not only is it a good way to take advantage of fresh produce, but it is an easy, healthier, and less expensive meal to prepare.
To help keep your weight, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and overall health in check, get out and walk! Even 15-20 minutes a day can make a big difference. Whether you are walking or participating in another outdoor activity you love, try to go early in the morning or in the evening to prevent overheating and avoid prime time sun exposure. Getting outside can also boost your mood and vitamin D levels adding additional health benefits.
Hitting the great outdoors has many health benefits, but it is essential to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning optimally. Aim for 48-64 oz of water every day. If you are active, your intake of water needs to increase. The rule of thumb is for every pound lost by sweating drink an extra 16 oz of water.
Decide today that the changes you make this summer will last all year. Write them down, use an app, find someone or something to make you accountable! Most of all, get outside, move your body and enjoy all that summer has to offer.
- Written by Gabriela Christ, PA-C
With Covid-19 changing daily routines and canceling all sports and activities for the last few months, many sports enthusiasts and athletes have been out of commission for far too long. As we gradually return to a “new” normal and implement our fitness routines, it is essential to ease back in to avoid injury. After a period of inactivity, your body needs to adapt and slowly increase activity as tolerated.
You may ask, “How do I go about this safely?” The answer is - make a plan.
Return to play:
Whatever your end goal - whether you are a collegiate athlete, a weekend warrior, an avid yoga goer, a once a week golfer or a high school track star - you have to start back at square one after being off your game for a few months.
Before you jump back in, start by creating a daily stretching plan, then slowly incorporate a strengthening workout to complete every other day. Core strengthening and cardio or aerobic exercise are also essential to do every day as you gradually increase your baseline activity.
If you were used to running 5 miles a day or squatting 250 pounds, do NOT start working out at that previous intensity. Instead, begin at HALF of your “normal” activity (in weight, distance, duration, intensity, etc.), and slowly increase as tolerated, provided you do not feel pain while doing it, that night, or the next day.
It is very common to be sore after returning to an activity that you have not done in a while. Soreness is okay and expected, but do not neglect persistent pain that continues for more than a few days. Sharp shooting pain felt during activity could be an overuse injury and a sign you tried to do too much too soon. LISTEN to your body. If your body is telling you that you need a rest day, take it. Your body will thank you later.
If you are feeling tightness in your muscles, applying heat to them before stretching will help warm up and loosen your muscles to allow for maximum mobility. If stretching and heat do not help feeling sore after exercise, try applying ice or taking anti-inflammatories.
Any training regimen, whether rebuilding or maintaining, is not complete without proper nutrition. If you are not fueling your body with a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and lean protein, as well as maintaining good hydration before, during, and after exercise, you will not be able to reach your peak performance. When you ask your body to perform on an empty tank, it is harder for your body to train and recover, and most importantly, injuries can often occur.
Preventing injury is key to any training or participation in athletic activity. The last thing that you want is to sustain an injury, sidelining you or setting you back when trying to return to your sport. Your chances of avoiding injury are best if you can develop and stick to your training plan. Gradually increase activity intensity, incorporate strength, conditioning, and core workouts, stretch before and after exercise, maintain a healthy diet and hydration, get a good night’s sleep and always listen to your body.
Dr. Lisa Daye and her Sports Medicine Orthopedics team are here for you. Whether you need to get your training back on track, avoid injury, or are injured and need treatment, Dr. Daye and her team can work with you to develop a plan that’s right for you.
Call 716.500.BONE(2663) for more information or to schedule an appointment.