When we start a health improvement program, whether diet or exercise or both, we typically only look at one part of the problem – calories in versus calories out. But doing so only takes part of the problem into account. More than just those calories, some factors can affect your heart health directly.
Foremost is sleep. It’s an underappreciated tool for not only our heart health but for our general health as well. Yes, Americans are dramatically sleep-deprived, and the result can be significant. For example, when we spring forward for daylight savings time and we have one hour less of sleep, heart attacks increase by 24% on that day. When we fall back and have that extra hour of sleep, heart attacks drop by 24%. It may seem dramatic, but our hearts and bodies are finely tuned to sleep patterns.
One of the most perplexing aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the variability in patients’ symptoms. We know that patients with certain risk factors, including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disorders, and obesity, are at particular risk of severe symptoms. However, it remains somewhat difficult to predict who will experience a mild case, sometimes even asymptomatic, and who will experience more significant symptoms when few or no risk factors are present.