Doctors and patients continue to be concerned about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on public health, particularly heart health.

The American Heart Association’s Annual Publication on Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2021 highlights that heart disease continues to be the leading cause for death.

“COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on human life worldwide and is on track to become one of the top three to five causes of death in 2020. But its influence will directly and indirectly impact rates of cardiovascular disease prevalence and deaths for years to come,”Donald Lloyd-Jones M.D. ScM, FAHA is president of the American Heart Association, and also chair of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s department of preventive medicine in Chicago.

He says that research has shown that COVID-19 can cause heart disease. However, indirect effects from the pandemic are likely to lead to an increase in cardiovascular problems. “Unhealthy eating habits, increased consumption of alcohol, lack of physical activity and the mental toll of quarantine isolation and even fear of contracting the virus all can adversely impact a person’s risk for cardiovascular health, he emphasizes. “These trends will have long-lasting ramifications that will need our attention.”

COVID-19 will impact the risk of experiencing or dying from heart disease or stroke for many years for several reasons.

– Unhealthy habits: During extended periods of quarantine or lockdown, many people developed or returned to behaviors related to poor eating, changes in work/sleep habits, lack of regular exercise and the mental stress of social isolation and excessive screen time that could contribute to heart disease and stroke.

– Missed medical visits: Many patients postponed regular doctor visits to manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol, resulting in an epidemic of poorly controlled disease that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

– Fear of hospitals: Data from the American Heart Association show that many individuals experienced a heart attack or stroke during the pandemic and did not seek urgent care out of fear of contracting COVID-19 in a hospital setting. Unfortunately, some people may have experienced medical events with lasting consequences that may have been lessened with prompt treatment.

– Heart-related risks for COVID-19 patients: Although studies of the impact of COVID-19 on pre-existing medical conditions are ongoing, the data show that individuals with cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure are at increased risk for more severe disease – even death – if they become ill with COVID-19. It’s important for everyone eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Visit to view the complete 2021 Statistical Update and to find fact sheets with information about the impact of COVID-19 on heart health and about cardiovascular disease risk in general.

Life today is fast. With the rise of digital technology, people can talk on the phone and check their children’s soccer scores while simultaneously sending work emails. The Internet age has given consumers the ability to expect the same conveniences from all businesses and services, except their insurance companies. Although 98 percent of health insurance claims are processed within 30 days, for many people who struggle to pay their medical bills, that can seem like a long time.

With nearly two-thirds American households making less money than 2002, simply being insured is not sufficient. It’s important to know how quickly and easily your insurance carrier processes and pays claims. This is crucial for both financial and physical recovery.

A recent survey found that 66% of workers wouldn’t be able adjust to the high financial costs associated with serious injuries or illnesses. Only 49% have more than $1,000 to cover out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, rising health care costs are forcing employers to implement cost-saving measures which are placing even greater financial pressure on employees.

* Increasing employees’ health care insurance copayments.

* Increasing employees’ share of premium.

* Implementing high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts.

Many people may have to wait up to a month before they receive their insurance payments. With better technology and a better understanding of the needs of consumers today, many insurance companies work hard to offer customers fast service. This is an example AflacIn the insurance industry, it is rare to find policies that allow for claims approval, processing, and payment within one day.

Fast payment policies are no longer luxury items of the past. It is a necessity in today’s world. It is more important than ever that you have money available immediately for serious injuries or illnesses. You should ensure that your insurance company can move at your pace.

Aflac’s One Day Pay Promise can be found at