Lockdowns are driving unhealthy habits like eating takeaways in people at risk of heart disease

Lockdowns are driving unhealthy habits like eating takeaways in people at risk of heart disease and Covid-19, doctors warn

  • Lockdowns during the pandemic have led to more take-outs, researchers claim
  • They warn of the risks of over-indulging for people with serious health issues 
  • These include high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and obesity
  • Each are influenced by diet and exercise, and at risk of worsening, it’s feared 

Covid-19 lockdowns are fuelling unhealthy habits, such as eating takeaway, among people with heart disease and other serious illnesses, doctors have warned.

‘Stay at home’ orders in the pandemic have driven people to cook less and order in more, according to experts at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

They warned this could spell trouble for those who are overweight, have high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or unhealthy blood sugar levels.

These illnesses are made worse by bad diets and a lack of exercise, and studies have shown they raise the risk of complications for Covid-19 patients. 

The authors of a new paper fear a rise in eating junk food and lack of exercise amid the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a burden of chronic disease. 

And long-term diseases make the risk of dying of Covid-19 significantly higher, with a majority of victims those who suffer from conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Lockdowns are driving unhealthy habits like eating takeaways in people at risk of heart disease and Covid-19, doctors have warned (stock image)

Dr Jeffrey Mechanick, professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Heart, led the research.

He and colleagues said the coronavirus pandemic had shone a light on the need to improve the public’s heart health. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 17.8million fatalities of all causes in 2017.  

The disease is typically the result of four problems: excess body fat, unstable blood sugar (dysglycemia), abnormal level of cholesterol and other fats in the blood (dyslipidemia) and high blood pressure.

People with those illnesses have another problem to contend with – a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from Covid-19.  

Dr Mechanick and colleagues fear a new condition will emerge – ‘coronavirus disease–related cardiometabolic syndrome’ (CIRCS).

It will encompass those who have an underlying health problem who are at risk of heart disease as well as Covid-19.  

The four problems are often the result of eating fatty food and not exercising enough. Sometimes smoking, drinking alcohol or genetics play a role. 

Dr Mechanick and colleagues said that stay at home orders can negatively impact health habits, as well as disruption to old routines.

They called for ‘a prevention program’ to create a ‘healthy culture’.

They wrote: ‘Social distancing foments a culture of ordering in and over consuming comfort foods. Simple instructions should be provided to promote a healthy lifestyle.  

‘Specifically, with school and lunch program closings, and new work or stay-at-home routines, the risks of undernutrition, weight gain, and deconditioning in children/adults need to be countered by planned home physical activities.’

Researchers in the US have previously warned prolonged periods of time at home, either as a child or adult, raises the risk of putting on weight.

Excessive time in front of the television or similar will mean people burn less calories, and may eat more to ward off boredom.  

The team said healthcare professionals should be encouraging people to buy home exercise equipment and do home workouts. If they don’t have room, they should go for a run, they said.

Concluding in their paper, the team wrote: ‘The anticipation of a chronic CIRCS should alert the health care system to avoid another wave of acute and chronic illnesses.’  

The paper was part of a three-part seminar from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 


Heart damage occurs in around one in four of hospitalised Covid-19 patients, according to researchers at Mount Sinai, New York.

Specifically a quarter of patients have ‘myocardial injury’, which encompasses all conditions causing cell death in the heart, measurable by chemicals in the blood.   

Patients with heart injury appear to have a greater need for mechanical ventilator support and higher risk of death, Dr Gennaro Giustino and colleagues reported.  

Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of the virus on the heart has become clearer.   

There is a higher risk of complications for the many patients worldwide who already have heart disease or are at increased risk. 

Researchers discussed the underlying mechanisms producing cardiovascular damage among hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19 infection in their paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

It is speculated that heart injury is a result of the virus impacting on the reninangiotensin system, a critical regulator of blood volume and pressure. 

It may also be related to the body’s immune response to the coronavirus; sometimes an overreaction can cause the body to attack healthy tissues, leading to organ damage. 

Dr Sean Pinney, one of the study authors, said: ‘Myocardial injury results in detectable increases in serum troponin, varying degrees of ventricular dysfunction and relatively frequent cardiac arrhythmias.

‘Whether these effects are simply associated with poor patient outcomes, including death, or directly contribute to patient mortality is as yet uncertain.’


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