Bronx nurse and patient reflect on heart health amid the pandemic

Rosa Rivera with her home health aide Miriam from Bayada.
Courtesy of Bayada

With many people skipping doctors’ appointments due to COVID, knowing how to care for the heart is essential as it is the number one killer of men and women.

February was American Heart Month and a medical professional from Bayada Home Health Care, a global nonprofit home health care agency with an office in the Bronx and one of its clients with congestive heart issues spoke with the Bronx Times.

Megan Lasako, a registered nurse, is a clinical manager at New York Assistive Care of Bayada and services Bronx residents.

She stressed how even during the pandemic when many are shuttered inside that people monitor their blood pressure, reduce their salt intake, take medications and vitamins, develop good sleep habits, exercise, eat healthily, quit smoking and watch one’s alcohol intake.

“Doctor appointments I think they’ve made a little bit easier because they’ve introduced tele-health,” she explained. “As far as exercising, it’s not like you can really go out to do water aerobics. You kind of have to think outside of the box.”

Lasako suggested taking walks around the block if one is comfortable or doing stretches and walking at home. She stressed how important it is for people, especially with heart conditions, to have a good team of people around them to keep them on track and focused.

Bayada clients with heart issues already had a lot on their plate prior to the coronavirus and the pandemic has only made things tougher.

One of those people is 73-year-old Morris Park resident Rosa Rivera who is living with congestive heart failure. Rivera, a retired postal service worker, receives assistive care at home from Bayada.

Rivera had her first heart attack in 2017 and since then has been breathing through an oxygen tank.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I couldn’t breathe.”

In 2019 she suffered a second heart attack.

She sees her doctor and cardiologist often and has a home health aide named Miriam from Bayada who she is quite close with. Miriam has helped her turn her life around.

Rivera exercises, takes her medication and most importantly eats much healthier. In fact, after her second heart attack, she dropped her weight from 233 pounds to 204.

“My home health aide has a plan for everything,” she said. “She makes sure it’s a balanced meal for breakfast. She’s the best.”

But, the pandemic has not been kind to Rivera as she had COVID-19 in December for 23 days. Thankfully she is in good spirits now.

“Without her (Miriam) I don’t know where I would be,” Rivera stated. “Bayada has helped me so much.”

 

 

 

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