The nation faces two pandemics: COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The coronavirus vaccine has been in circulation since late last year, yet only 60.2% of Virginia is fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Health Department Sept. 29, 2021 report.

The report also reveals 62.4% of the white population and only 58.8% of the Black population has received at least one vaccine dose.

As the pandemic enters its 19th month, the president of the American Heart Association is joining the chorus of concern regarding vaccine hesitancy.

Dr. Donald M. Lloyd (Photo courtesy: AHA)

“It [the vaccine] is incredibly effective in preventing severe infection, hospitalization, and death. It’s among the safest vaccines we’ve ever produced and it’s free,” said Dr. Donald M. Lloyd in a Zoom video call from Chicago.

The AHA chief is sounding the alarm as health disparities exposed by the pandemic have left the underserved at high risk for two potentially fatal conditions.

“The things that put us at risk for COVID, severe COVID infection, are obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Those are the same risk factors that put us at risk for heart disease and stroke,” said Lloyd-Jones.

Research indicates the novel coronavirus often enters the body through the nasal passages but then uses the bloodstream’s highways to transport a potentially lethal dose of the pathogen.

“A lot of the way the virus gets around the body is traveling through the bloodstream and damaging blood vessels and causing small blood clots,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, minorities in America are more likely to catch the coronavirus and die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

So what can you do now for a fighting chance? The AHA is prescribing the vaccine and “Life’s Simple 7.”

“A healthy diet, physical activity, healthy weight, not smoking and knowing your cholesterol, your blood pressure and your blood sugar numbers. That’s seven and if you have a problem, just pick one of those and work on it and your heart health will improve, said Lloyd-Jones.

To prepare for the next pandemic, Lloyd-Jones is calling for reinvestment in public health, better cooperation between the 50 states and improved health for the next generation.

“We need to get much more serious about launching our children into healthy trajectories, meaning, keeping them from developing weight gain that happens in adolescence and young adults. That drives obesity, hypertension and diabetes,” he said.

In efforts to debunk a barrage of vaccine misinformation, the American Heart Association of Hampton Roads is hosting a free online Community Conversation on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, from noon to 1 pm.

Panelists will elaborate on vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, debunk vaccine myths and they will share strategies of best practice to maintain good health and wellness, according to a news release.

For more information contact the AHA of Hampton Roads: 757-628-2605

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