Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women and costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $363 billion each year. Now, we’re also seeing how the pandemic has caused an even greater increase in women’s risk for heart disease.

Beyond the physical effects of contracting COVID-19, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the cultural and societal demands of everyday life. Many parents were forced to work from home, while juggling having to serve as their kids’ teachers or adjusting to new schedules of having kids home all day with remote learning.

Increased stress and less time and energy to devote to self-care appears to have had an impact on cardiovascular health. According to a study recently published in JAMA, 40% of Americans have experienced at least one heart-related issue since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic also shed light on the value of digital tools to support physical and mental health. The link between mental health and cardiovascular health is well established, and early on in the pandemic Happy Health launched a digital mental health program with the American Heart Association (AHA) aimed at reducing stress and encouraging healthy behaviors among people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Stress and poor diet are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and while genetics also plays a role, there are many lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk. A Happify Daily article recently explored this topic and offered 8 practical steps you can take to protect your heart health including fitness and nutritional tips.

Share the full article here with your employees, employer clients, or members to help them understand risk factors and the preventative measures to reduce overall cardiovascular risk.