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Listen to your heart

By Karen Kier, Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

On September 27, 1988, the Swedish pop duo Roxette released their single Listen to Your Heart.  The song hit the #1 spot on the Billboard music charts in both the United States and Canada in November of 1989. In 2005, the Belgian dance group DHT covered the song for release as an international club hit.  In 2020, ABC released a version of the Bachelor in Paradise that was titled, Listen to Your Heart.  Although these art forms are talking about love and relationships, it is very good advice for our overall heart health as well.

The top three leading causes of death in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19.  A study released on February 7, 2022 in the journal Nature Medicine showed that COVID-19 infections can lead to an increase in heart disease after an infection. The researchers did an in-depth analysis of a large federal health database to evaluate COVID-19 infections and heart risk after the infection had resolved. The analysis evaluated all levels of COVID-19 infections including mild infections.  The results of the study showed that one month to a year after a COVID-19 infection puts an individual at an increased risk of future heart disease even if their heart was healthy at the time of the infection. The study compared patients with a COVID-19 infection in the past year to those patients who did not have a COVID-19 infection. The patients who had a COVID-19 infection were 72% more likely to have coronary heart disease (narrowing or blockage of blood vessels to the heart restricting oxygen and blood to the heart muscle), 63% more likely to have a heart attack, and 52% more likely to have a stroke then those individuals who did not have a COVID-19 infection. The study noted that changes in heart rhythm and heart inflammation were seen within one month to one year after COVID-19 infection as well. Based on the study results, the researchers estimated that the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will increase the number of new heart disease cases worldwide to over 15 million.   

What does this mean for our health? It becomes vitally important to see your primary care provider for heart health checkups. Make your heart health a priority including reducing cholesterol, maintaining a normal body weight, lowering blood pressure, and exercising. The American Heart Association ( has many different educational tips for heart health including information on the seven healthy habits to help your heart. The recommendations for medication management for heart-related conditions is the same right now for those who have had a COVID-19 infection.  Studies are in progress to evaluate heart care in the patients with long COVID-19 but the heart data is not just for those with long COVID-19.  This is an important distinguishing issue.  The heart concerns can occur in anyone who has had a COVID-19 infection and not just those with symptoms from long COVID-19.  

To be balanced, some could argue that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has some heart side effects as well. This would be true. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines had a rare side effect of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart).  The data shows that an individual is four times more likely to have a heart complication from a COVID-19 infection than an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.  

In the era of both COVID-19 infections and COVID-19 vaccinations, it is important to talk to your primary care providers. Think about discussing your heart health when you have a check-up.  Read about heart disease and know the warning signs.  It is important to not wait if you experience chest pain, crushing pressure in the chest, heartburn, pain in the jaw, back or abdomen pain, nausea or vomiting, sweating, or feeling dizzy. Make sure to talk to your pharmacist about any questions that you may have about heart medications either for treatment or prevention of heart disease.

Listen to your heart!

Feel free to call the ONU HealthWise Pharmacy for the science on COVID-19. ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines Monday through Friday from 4 pm to 6 pm. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen and flu shots and high-dose flu vaccines. Pediatric Pfizer vaccines (5 to 11-years) are available by appointment through the state Vaccine Management Solution (VMS) system.  Call the pharmacy to get more information. 

ONU HealthWise Pharmacy