How Has Heart Care Changed During the Pandemic?

Daily life has certainly changed during the pandemic and for many that includes how they receive heart care. For some, that also includes how they manage their risk for heart disease. There’s good and bad, but interventional cardiologist Dr. Anthony Fletcher with the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute says, “I think we can look forward and we can look at this pandemic as maybe an opportunity to refocus on the basics. Here are the things we can do to live healthy, productive lifestyles and perhaps long, healthy lifestyles if we do the right things.”

Those heart care basics include:

Too many patients began to ignore or minimize symptoms of heart disease after the beginning of the pandemic, but Dr. Fletcher says early detection is key. Fortunately, the expansion of telehealth and virtual visits with a patient’s doctor have made it easier than ever to discuss those symptoms early on and take action if needed.

“Telehealth actually did exist before Covid, but there were lots of obstacles in terms of its utilization,” says Dr. Fletcher. “Now telehealth is certainly here to stay and I think we’ll see that develop as time goes on.”

Another trend that has developed during the pandemic, although not positive one, is weight gain. Dr. Fletcher says it’s important for patients to get their weight back in check, not because of their appearance, but because of what it means for their heart. “It has to do with blood pressure. It has to do with sugar. It has to do with conditioning. It has to do with the exacerbation of heart failure.”

Luckily, Arkansans have more access than ever before to high quality, compassionate care. Dr. Fletcher sees patients at the CHI St. Vincent Heart Clinic Arkansas locations at 5315 W. 12th Street in Little Rock and 206 S 1st Street in McGehee, but the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute provides access to the largest and most diverse network of heart specialists in the state. To learn more, visit: