February is National Heart Month and our weekly, local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up marks the occasion with a discussion about heart health with American Heart Association Communications Director Kristy Smorol.

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In addition to the usual concerns about heart health including the impact of diet and exercise on preventing heart attack and stroke, Smorol there are new concerns directly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smorol says the disease itself is being found to have an impact on the heart muscle while the stress of the pandemic, working and teaching at home, changing economic situations and people changing their eating and other habits during the pandemic have also had a negative impact on people's health.

There are still many things people can do to help their heart health and many of those suggestions can be found at www.heart.org.

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Smorol also gives a shout out to Security Mutual Life in Binghamton for marking Heart Month in a special way during the month of February. Read more about that here.

While the Heart Association, like many organizations, have faced challenges with fund-raising, education programs and other efforts during the pandemic, some events have continued with a little creativity.

Smorol says the annual Heart Walk was one of the first events at the start of the pandemic last spring that had to be re-worked in order to continue.  It was one of the first walks to go virtual after being pushed back from its originally scheduled date in April, 2020.  The Walk is again going to be held virtually this year on April 11. Participants can register on the Heart Association website.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Sunday at 6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.

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