Local Cardiologist Outlines Covid-19’s Impact on Heart Health

FALMOUTH – After a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Barnstable County, a local doctor explained some of the impacts the virus can have on the heart.

Dr. John Hostetter, Cardiologist at the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiovascular Center located at Falmouth Hospital, said that negative effects to the heart are typically seen in more severe cases of COVID. 

Dr. Hostetter said some of those effects seen in hospitalized cases have included inflammation of the heart, fluid buildup, evidence of congestive heart failure, and heart rhythm issues.  

When asked if a COVID infection can lead to long-term heart risks, Hostetter cited a study in Nature.

The study followed a group of people that contracted the virus during the first year of the pandemic. It discovered that the participants had increased risks for heart attacks and strokes.

Hostetter clarified that risks were lower in those that had less intense cases, but even those people still had some heightened health risks.  

“What we don’t know is whether that continues beyond that year or if that was a more short-term risk that fades out over time,” he said.  

Hostetter said that COVID vaccines and boosters reduce the risk of developing a serious case of the virus, which in turn benefit heart health. 

“That should translate it to less chance of arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, and events that we’re trying to prevent,” he said.

The cardiologist said that the first year of the pandemic combined several adverse factors like less access to exercise, delay of medical care, and heightened stress which all led to increased cardiovascular risks for the country and the world. 

To keep COVID risks low, Hostetter advised standard preventative health measures like exercising 30 to 40 minutes for 4 or 5 times a week, avoiding excess alcohol, not smoking, and keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol. 

“All those healthy lifestyle things seem to dial in the direction of less severe COVID and less effects going forward,” he said. 

Hostetter advised people to stay up to date on COVID boosters and flu shots. He also hoped people would not get discouraged when trying to form healthy habits this winter, stating even 1 or 2 days a week of exercise is better than no physical activity.  

“I would encourage people not to get disheartened or give up because little steps can make a big difference.” 

By Brian Engles, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.

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