WELLNESS WEDNESDAY — The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot. It altered eating habits, exercise routines, and prevented some people from going to their annual checkups.

Now, as we look ahead to post-pandemic life, the American Heart Association (AHA) is warning people that all those missed appointments are dangerous for them and the healthcare system.

The President of the American Heart Association Syracuse Chapter, Peggy Thomas says we’re starting to see the after-effects of the pandemic and the unhealthy habits it caused.

“I think the isolation from family and friends has taken its toll on physical and mental wellbeing.”

Peggy Thomas

Thomas believes the fear of getting the virus kept people away from the doctor’s office. Now, she says it’s time to get back.

What we’re going to continue to see is, I think, a rise in individuals who may not be diagnosed with high blood pressure or not know that they have elevated cholesterol, and not being able to catch those things early and put a healthy lifestyle and potentially medication changes in place is gonna have a long-term impact.

Peggy Thomas – President, American Heart Association Syracuse Chapter

The other big concern is a domino effect caused by people putting off checkups for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

“It’s really gonna have an impact on our healthcare system as well, increasing emergency room visits,” Thomas said.

If emergency rooms become flooded with patients, Thomas warns your wait time will be longer and the medical infrastructure will be strained.

So, the AHA is spreading the message: it’s safe to seek out healthcare.

“They owe it to themselves to seek out that care because the long-term effects of it are really important,” Thomas said.

The AHA is also advocating for patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It [COVID vaccine] really does have an impact on chronic illnesses and comorbidities for individuals with chronic illness.”

Peggy Thomas