What Heart Patients Need to Know About COVID-19
Coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19, has taken the world by storm as a public health threat. With travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, many Americans are left wondering whether they are at an increased risk for contracting or experiencing serious illness as a result of COVID-19, especially those with a history of heart disease
In this brief article, Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, the best heart doctor in Tampa, discusses what patients with existing cardiovascular conditions need to know about COVID-19 and what they can do to best protect themselves.
How Does My Heart Condition Impact My Risk for Severe Illness From COVID-19?
COVID-19 is defined as an infectious disease caused by a virus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that has resulted in a global pandemic. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and muscle pain. Presently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes older adults and anyone with serious underlying medical conditions, including heart conditions, as being at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The reason behind why your heart condition may make you more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19 lies in the effect COVID-19 has on your respiratory system. Due to the systemic inflammatory response to the disease, you may experience a decrease in heart function, viral infection in the heart, heart failure, or heart inflammation. For patients with heart conditions, the increased demand placed on the heart and the cardiac reserve capacity can severely damage your circulatory and respiratory systems, leading to organ failure in multiple organs or pneumonia.
Related: What Is Heart Failure?
What Actions Should I Take to Protect Myself?
A clinical bulletin published by the American College of Cardiology advises that all cardiovascular patients exercise additional precautions in accordance with CDC guidance. For starters, this includes taking all of your current medication exactly as prescribed. This includes medication for indications, such as heart failure or high blood pressure, like angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARB). It would also be wise to ensure that you have at least a two-week supply of any heart disease medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Although there is not yet a vaccination for COVID-19, it is important to remain current with other relevant vaccinations, including those for influenza and pneumococcal disease. If you are due for a routine, in-person medical visit and are managing your heart condition well, it may be beneficial to look into a telehealth or telephonic visit instead. Last but certainly not least, you should take extra precautions to prevent infection, such as washing your hands thoroughly for at least twenty seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; cleaning surfaces touched often with a disinfectant; and practicing social distancing by limiting travel and avoiding large gatherings. For more information on managing your heart condition in these unprecedented times, contact a board-certified heart doctor in Tampa — Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC.
To consult Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, a top heart doctor in Tampa, please call (813) 344-0934 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
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