SAN ANTONIO – February is the the American Heart Association’s Heart Month, a time when good heart health should be at the forefront and something that COVID-19 tends to overshadow.
But right now, there’s a trend that pediatric cardiologists are seeing that co-mingles the two in a scary way for parents, who see their child complain of a rapid heart rate and feeling sick and think they’re having a heart attack.
Dr. Elaine Maldonado, a pediatric cardiologist at UT Health San Antonio, said increasingly, alarmed parents are bringing their children into her office, worried their loved one is suffering from a heart condition.
“If a child has chest pain or palpitations, it’s almost always not cardiac-related, unlike adults. But stress and anxiety can bring on a lot of these symptoms that would point people towards thinking that they have a heart problem,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado said the best way to make sure it’s not the heart is a cardiac evaluation. Once a heart attack is ruled out, the next step should be correcting the situation at home that is causing the anxiety.
“It’s just everybody’s cooped up, and they can’t socialize the way they normally would, which is super important for all of us,” Maldonado said. She recommends trying to get the household back into routines and to take care of basics, like exercise and eating right.
“Almost 100% of the time, not always, but almost 100% of the time, it’s not a cardiac-related issue,” said Maldonado, but also notes that staying healthy emotionally at this time is important to keeping physically and mentally balanced.