February 2021 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Heart Issues
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 23, No. 2, P. 6

For nearly a year, Today’s Dietitian has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to dietetics practice and clinical patient care—and rightfully so. The pandemic has greatly impacted all areas of health care and has revealed devastating health disparities in Black and brown communities. It has dominated news headlines and every aspect of our lives. The good news is there’s light at the end of this dark tunnel. We now have vaccines so it’s only a matter of time before we all can receive them and see the rates of infections and deaths go down.

Nevertheless, many people who have contracted the virus and recovered are experiencing lingering health effects that may persist for months. Referred to as “long haulers,” these individuals are battling ongoing symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain. Others are grappling with loss of smell or taste, memory, concentration or sleep problems, and a fast or pounding heartbeat.

What’s insidious about the virus is how it can potentially injure the heart. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, “imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms.” Heart muscle damage may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future. This is important for dietitians to know, especially those working with patients in cardiac rehabilitation who have developed heart problems directly related to COVID-19.

To learn more about how the virus can adversely affect heart health and what nutrition strategies RDs can share with patients and their families, Today’s Dietitian, in honor of American Heart Month, is featuring the article “Heart Health & COVID-19” on page 18. You’ll learn about the various cardiac complications that can arise due to COVID-19, how the disease may impact individuals with preexisting CVD and underlying CVD risk factors, and the role RDs can play in patient care.

Also in this issue are articles on osteoporosis, plant-based dairy alternatives, nutrition and Lyme disease, and cultural humility in food and nutrition. Please enjoy the issue!

— Judith Riddle, Editor