Routine heart care hits close to home for chief physician

If you've been delaying routine care or life-saving screenings, it's time to visit your doctor

A Sanford Health physician's family stands together for a portrait outdoors

If there’s one medical leader who understands the importance of not delaying care, it’s Sanford Health chief physician Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., whose father underwent a five-vessel bypass in May 2020.

“Those screenings and that ability to get into his cardiologist’s office were absolutely key to him getting diagnosed,” Dr. Cauwels explained.

“Whether you’re having symptoms or you just know you have a heart history, it is absolutely important to make sure that you are coming in, that you’re getting checked on again, and you’re getting the appropriate screenings to make sure you’re safe.”

Dr. Cauwels tells Sanford Health News his father, Mike, is doing very well and back to the same work and activity as before.

‘What we didn’t see during COVID is concerning’

“We didn’t see breast cancer as often as we used to, we didn’t see heart attacks as often as we used to — which is great — but we also didn’t see people who are coming in with chest pain that was getting worse,” he said.

“Getting those screenings, making sure that you’re healthy, making sure that you’ve taken the steps you need to make sure you’re preventing illness is, in my opinion, the important piece of what’s been lost in COVID and we need to bring back. It’s time.”

Learn: Heart & vascular screenings: What’s the difference?

The disease levels in our states have dropped nicely, he says, which presents a good time to come in and get seen by doctors and catch up on all of those things that you put off while you were at home.

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“If you have a history of heart disease, heart health concerns or symptoms associated with your ability to exert yourself, it’s important to recognize that,” Dr. Cauwels explained. “The biggest concern we have is that you could have a heart attack while waiting it out.”

He says, instead of putting off care – thinking you can wait a week or two – you may not get that lucky. Heart attacks are still a leading cause of death in this country so if you have concerns, he reiterates, get in and get seen.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Heart, Vascular