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National Heart Month

February has traditionally been designated National Heart Month, and it is again in 2022. As we’re about to enter year 3 of the COVID pandemic, we’ll again be talking about updates and precautions, in addition to a little about heart health.

The last update from the Metropolitan Health District showed cases dropping state-wide over the last few days. That said, local admissions cases and ICU patients are not dropping yet. At our clinic, we are receiving calls daily about patients testing positive for COVID. Some have no symptoms and others are moderately ill with cough, congestion and fever. During the last surge, we were able to refer high-risk patients for a monoclonal antibody infusion. Supplies are now scarce and only one of the available treatments is effective against the prevalent Omicron variant.

At our location, we have had some success finding the new oral treatment, Paxlovid, for high-risk patients. Supplies change daily and we end up calling multiple pharmacies to try to find the medication. Another complicating factor is that the medication has potentially significant interactions with common medications and conditions. If you have COVID, have been sick for less than 5 days, are at high-risk and have mild to moderate symptoms, talk with your doctor about trying to find Paxlovid.

As I’ve written here many times before, being fully vaccinated with 3 shots reduces the risk of COVID infection and often minimizes symptoms if you do get infected. The sickest patients I have seen have been either unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated. I’ve also been encouraging patients and family to start wearing better quality masks. Current recommendations are for N95, KN-95 or surgical masks instead of fabric masks; and yes, masks still make a difference!

As the weather improves and it becomes easier to be outside, it is time to make a plan to get healthier. We can go about protecting our hearts with exercise, proper sleep, and eliminating our unhealthy habits. Healing our hearts begins with proper physical and mental health care. Controlling blood pressure can take the strain off of our hearts. Cholesterol medications can reduce the risk of a heart attack. Eating a healthy diet will help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Speaking with a counselor can help heal our hearts from emotional trauma and relieve the stress we’re facing during these uncertain times.

The most important message in this article is to take care of yourselves and those around you. We’ve probably all known someone who has had COVID or possibly died from the terrible virus. We all have the ability to make a difference for those around us.

Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Primary Care Doctors, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.