Wave of patients with severe chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, diabetes

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:03 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - COVID-19 patients are still flooding hospitals in 2022. But, it’s not the only disease doctors are warning of.

Chronic diseases or conditions such as heart failure, stroke, and diabetes are also rising. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Dr. Swetha Alapati, a hospitalist with Huntsville Hospital, said she’s sees this trend happening first-hand. The main chronic diseases she sees among patients include heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke and pneumonia. Over the past couple years, she’s seen an increase in these conditions among patients and for many, their symptoms are more severe.

Dr. Alapati believes there are a few reasons for this wave of patients with more severe chronic health conditions. A lack of preventive healthcare is one reason. During the pandemic, many people put off their routine checkups.

“People aren’t following up as regularly as they used to,” Dr. Alapati said. “And also they are waiting until it’s too late to come into the ER because they are trying to avoid COVID...So when they come in they are more sick than usual.”

Obesity is another factor leading to many of these chronic illnesses. According to the CDC, “obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

Dr. Alapati also points out that Americans were essentially stuck indoors during the pandemic and many turned to bad habits. As we move forward, Dr. Alapati hopes people will take control of their health.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late and then come in because there could be damage that’s done that’s irreparable that could have been addressed if you come earlier,” she said.

Dr. Alapati encourages everybody to schedule annual checkups and get their vaccines. She believes preventive healthcare is vital.

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