Health check-up and COVID-19 vaccine best one-two punch to get healthy in wake of pandemic

The American Heart Association and San Diego Foundation collaborate to encourage San Diegans to reconnect with their medical providers via “Doctor, It’s Been Too Long”

Have you seen your doctor lately? Over the past year, many people have missed routine exams, annual physicals, and important health screenings. Delayed checkups, combined with unhealthy habits picked up during the pandemic, can take a physical and emotional toll on your overall wellbeing.

“We understand that some may not have been able to prioritize preventative care while living through a pandemic,” explained American Heart Association San Diego Division Chair Yameeka Williams, “but primary and specialty doctor visits are an important way to protect your health – especially if you have top risk factors for severe COVID-19 complications like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.”

With that in mind, the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary organization devoted to longer, healthier lives, has launched “Doctor, It’s Been Too Long” – a campaign focused on getting San Diegans reconnected with their medical providers.  The campaign is funded by the San Diego Foundation.

“You need to take charge of your health,” Williams stressed.  “Schedule those check-ups you may have missed and reconnect with your provider to ensure you can manage any conditions you may have like high blood pressure or diabetes.” Williams added that while you are taking charge of your health, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the novel coronavirus that has now killed more than half a million Americans.

“In the year since the pandemic was first declared, we’ve seen some concerning trends. People have been hesitant or unable to get in to see their health care providers. That’s been the case for urgent issues like heart attack and stroke symptoms, and for routine physicals or health check-ups to manage conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease,” explained Williams. “Also, during the year-long quarantine and isolation, stress has become a part of everyday life. Many people have taken up unhealthy behaviors such as lack of exercise, overeating/poor diets and increased alcohol and tobacco use. In the long-run those lifestyle changes can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.”

A recent survey reinforces how the pandemic may be negatively impacting people’s future health. At least 23.9% of California residents reported delaying or not getting medical care in the past four weeks because of the pandemic, according to the CDC’s latest Household Pulse Survey.

“We understand how important it is for San Diegans to get back to their medical providers – to schedule those routine exams and important health screenings,” stressed Pamela Gray Payton, VP, Chief Impacts and Partnerships Officer, for The San Diego Foundation, which provided funding for the campaign. “That hesitancy is impacting our overall health, both physical and mental.”

Payton added that The San Diego Foundation believes that their collaboration with the American Heart Association on the “Doctor, It’s Been Too Long” campaign will encourage people to reconnect with their medical providers and get back on track. “It’s time to recommit to your health. If you’ve missed an appointment, make one today,” she added.

While the campaign is focused on the importance of visiting with your medical provider and getting San Diegans back to the doctor, it also includes support for local healthcare providers, including some chronic disease management resources, such as blood pressure cuffs, patient education, and technical assistance to help medical providers meet patient/community needs. 

Williams added that health care professionals have plans to keep you and medical staff safe even during a pandemic. But if you are uncomfortable or unable to visit your doctor’s office in-person, there are still ways you can connect. Telemedicine can offer an alternative to skipping those important check-ins and check-ups. Video chats through platforms like FaceTime or Zoom can connect you and your doctor face-to-face and voice-to-voice for a personalized visit. And there are many new options for equipment that make home testing and monitoring easy and convenient to help you and your doctor track your progress.

To learn more about “Doctor, It’s Been Too Long” campaign, visit www.heart.org/en/health-topics/doctor-its-been-too-long

To learn more about how you can prepare for you medical appointment, visit  https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/doctor-its-been-too-long/preparing-for-your-appointment

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century.

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region.  For more than 46 years, The Foundation and its donors have granted more than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.

Health check-up and COVID-19 vaccine best one-two punch to get healthy in wake of pandemic

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