SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US according to the CDC and now new data is showing the potential impacts of the pandemic.

A new survey from the Cleveland Clinic found 41 percent of people experienced one cardiac-related issue since March of 2020.

“As we wind down from this pandemic a little bit, [it is important] to think about what they can do in a proactive manner to carry their lifestyle and maybe creating little windows opportunities for people to engage in heart-healthy behaviors,” said Patrick Schilling, Manager of Cardiovascular Rehab and Wellness at Baystate Medical Center.

Schilling has been in the cardiovascular health field for over 20 years, he said with more people working for home, there’s been a decrease in exercise.

Meantime, the stress of the pandemic has brought along higher levels of depression and anxiety. Anxiety symptoms can mimic heart challenges like chest pain and shortness of breath. All this, as Schilling said they’ve also noticed more younger people are developing heart disease, when the typical patient is usually 60 to 70 years old.

Patrick said when it comes to protecting your heart, the best thing that you can do is preventative care, which includes regularly seeing and checking up with your primary care physician.

“One of the things is to remember that exercise is medicine, that our bodies are meant to be moved in certain ways,” he told 22News. “The benefits of exercise can be realized in as little as 10 minutes per day and accumulated up to 30 minutes per day.”

Schilling also suggested eating a Mediterranean diet which features vegetables, fruits, seafood, and nuts.