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Coronavirus doctor’s diary: Is lockdown good for your heart?

One of the intriguing observations during the pandemic has been the marked reduction in patients coming to hospital with acute heart attacks or strokes.

Our initial worry was that people were frightened to come in when they needed to – suffering their symptoms at home rather than risking getting infected in hospital. This may still turn out to be the case, but heart attacks and strokes are the sort of episodes in which you would expect patients to seek help. You would expect them to be picked up by health services.

Perhaps the slowing down of our frantic lives from our enforced lockdown, and even the cleaner air we are breathing from the reductions in traffic, are helping to keep us in finer fettle? Our slow living might be nurturing new healthier habits and lifestyles.

One clue has emerged from people using the Fitbit health and fitness tracker in the US.

Heart rate is a good indicator for heart health – the lower your resting heart rate the better – and Fitbit has found that during lockdown average resting heart rates have fallen.

Also, while step counts have also fallen, the number of active minutes has actually gone up – people have swapped desk-based routines for more mobile routines at home.

Sleep duration has also increased with people going to bed earlier than normal and sleeping longer. It seems as though the lockdown has had the health-promoting effect of a good holiday.

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