Health Consequences of the Pandemic: It’s Not Just About COVID-19

Author: Karin Shavelson, MD, FAAP, Chief Medical Officer, MarinHealth Medical Center
Health Consequences of the Pandemic: It’s Not Just About COVID-19

There’s no denying the devastating effect COVID-19 has had on U.S. health, from lives lost, to long-term lung issues, to “long-haul” COVID-19 cases. But that’s not the only toll the pandemic has taken on our health. Fear of the virus has led many to postpone routine screenings, checkups, and treatments.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one-third of adults skipped recommended tests and screenings during the pandemic, and 43 percent missed routine preventive appointments. Delaying mammography, Pap smears, prostate exams, colonoscopies, and other routine cancer screenings puts you at risk for later-stage cancers. During the early months of the pandemic, when mammograms were less widely available, the number of breast cancer diagnoses declined. Now, more women are being diagnosed with later-stage cancer, which is harder to treat. Other preventive measures frequently postponed during the pandemic, such as colonoscopies or the HPV vaccine, prevent cancer from occurring in the first place.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, fear of exposure to COVID-19 led some 41 percent of U.S. adults to delay or avoid routine, urgent, and even emergency care. Many patients with chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart, or kidney disease, cut back on doctor visits to the detriment of their health. Millions may now be at greater risk for prediabetes, high blood pressure, and mental health issues. Local providers are seeing an increase in patients with overall anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicidality.

If you held off seeing your doctor, it’s time to get back on track. MarinHealth® Medical Center and MarinHealth | UCSF Health Clinics adhere to the strictest COVID-19 safety precautions. As of this writing, more than 45 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated and in Marin County, an impressive 81 percent of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and 89 percent have received at least one dose. If you haven’t already, we urge you to talk to your doctor about any concerns and get vaccinated as soon as possible. Meanwhile, don’t put off getting care you need. If you prefer, ask your provider if a telehealth appointment is right for you.

As devastating as COVID-19 has been, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke are still leading causes of death in the U.S. You owe it to yourself—and your loved ones—to catch up on doctor visits, screenings, and immunizations. MarinHealth has made it easy to understand your risk factors for stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease with free, simple, rapid, and confidential health risk assessments. Just answer a few questions online and get results immediately that you can discuss with your doctor.

Learn more about your risk factors today:

  • Stroke Assessment
  • Diabetes Assessment
  • Cardiovascular Disease Assessment