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Telehealth actually did exist before COVID-19 but virus has changed it in many ways

COVID-19 has changed healthcare in so many ways and that includes affairs of the heart.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — COVID-19 has now been a part of our lives for more than 500 days. It has changed healthcare in so many ways and that includes affairs of the heart.

As the COVID battle has raged, interventional cardiologist with CHI St. Vincent, Dr. Anthony Fletcher, has noticed changes and not all of them bad.

First, there's telemedicine.

“Telehealth actually did exist before COVID,” Dr. Fletcher said. “But there were a lot of obstacles in terms of its utilization, and so it wasn't as broadly utilized as it became when we started with COVID. Telehealth is certainly here to stay and I think we'll see that develop as time goes on.”

Another positive, we have creatively found ways to stay together with families.

“We had to entertain each other, you know we spent more time watching movies or doing games or or things, with the family, and I think the family unit is a form of security and it also is a form of helping us manage our stress,” Dr. Fletcher said.

But now the negative — beginning with a COVID phenomenon, dangerous procrastination.

“A lot of patients sort of had a denial of symptoms or they put symptoms off in terms of minimizing it because, again, they were more afraid of covert than they were their heart,” Dr. Fletcher said.

Then, there is the COVID change that is more widespread.

“We have what we call the COVID weight gain — that certainly was brought about by the advent of COVID,” he said.

For a cardiologist, weight gain has nothing to do with how you look.

“It has to do with blood pressure,” he said. “It has to do with sugar. It has to do with conditioning, has to do with exacerbation of heart failure.”

Dr. Fletcher's COVID message here is know your numbers. Get regular checkups in any form you're comfortable with, exercise and above all, don't surrender.

“I think those are the ways that we can move forward, and we can look at this this pandemic as maybe an opportunity to refocus on the basics,” he said. “Here are the things we can do to lead healthy productive lifestyles and perhaps a long healthy lifestyle if we do the right things.”

The number one on doctor fletcher's list — get the shot.

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