Coronavirus Outbreak Again? What Heart Patients Need to Know about Covid-19 (2022 update)
The outbreak and surging case caused by Omicron variants seem to cast a shadow on the previously controlled Covid-19 in 2021. Despite the reported relatively mild symptom of the Omicron variant, it still breaks the Covid-19 hospitalization rate at over 132,000. There were 132,646 people hospitalized with COVID, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year.
Higher Risk of Severe Case
Evidence shows that conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathies (weakening, thinning and/or thickening of the heart muscle) lead to more severe cases of COVID-19, according to the “strongest and most consistent evidence” tracked by the CDC.
The main concern for people with underlying heart conditions is COVID-19 could cause respiratory stress that would worsen those conditions, said Dr. Nisha Parikh, a clinical cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. For example, it could strain the heart of someone who has had stents or bypass surgery.
Keep on Medication
Heart patients should continue taking their usual medications. ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers, which are used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart failure, were scrutinized at the start of the pandemic, but studies yielded good news. Studies suggest some of these medications for heart conditions might be protective for people with mild to moderate Covid-19.
Go to Hospital when It’s Necessary
People having heart, stroke, or other symptoms that might require emergency care shouldn’t hesitate to get help, she said. Studies suggest the initial coronavirus surge brought increases in fatal heart attacks, possibly due to delayed care.
Mental Health is Important as Well
People also need to take care of their mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression are also risk factors for heart conditions to get worse. Take blood pressure regularly as usual or start a healthier habit for your heart.
Why is the Coronavirus Especially Dangerous for those with Heart Diseases?
According to a New York Times interview of an expert who studies influenza and heart disease, respiratory diseases like the one caused by the novel coronavirus stresses the heart, worsening the underlying heart disease.
A cardiologist explained on Psychology Today that whenever the body is infected with viruses like the novel coronavirus, the body’s metabolic demand increases to fight the infection. In such cases, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood, taking on 4-8 times its normal workload.
For people with heart diseases, plaque build-up in their arteries, chronic vascular inflammation, and stiff arteries, their bodies are less equipped to handle the stress Covid-19 causes.
Is Coronavirus Dangerous to Those with Hypertension?
The good news is, an NPR article suggests that, if one’s hypertension is under control, and one has no other health condition that would make COVID-19 worse, then one is “probably not at any greater peril…”
However, it is important to note that people often have complications relating to hypertension. Hypertension is the “silent killer” that damages and stiffens arteries, as well as increases one’s risk of heart disease and stroke, which are precisely the conditions that can make COVID-19 worse. Therefore, it is especially important for people to diligently manage their high blood pressure.
What to do if you’re at High Risk for Developing Severe Covid-19 Symptoms?
The AHA has stated that “prevention is key.” The CDC has put out comprehensive guidelines for how to prevent COVID-19 under different settings. The WHO has also put out guidelines. Here are some highlights:
- Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as touch-screens, counters, tables, etc.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, when that’s not available, clean hands with hand-sanitizers containing 75% alcohol.
- Don’t come into contact with people who have been tested positive for the coronavirus, people who have recently traveled to areas with high-infection rates, and people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.
- Stay away from people in general, at least 6-feet away if possible.
- When receiving visitors in your house, ask them to wash their hands.
- Greet people from 3-feet away: no hugs or handshakes.
- Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Stock up on essential medications, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), and make sure you have your regular prescriptions filled.
- Have in handy the contacts of your healthcare provider, and come up with a list of people who can help you in case of an emergency.
- If you’re sick, stay home, cover your sneezes and coughs, and wear a face mask.
- Know the symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, dry cough, fatigue, and body aches. If you suspect you have the disease, seek medical help and isolate yourself.
- If someone you live with exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, try to limit your shared space and disinfect your living spaces regularly.
MOCACARE wishes everyone to stay healthy and safe in this stressful time. By doing our part in practicing social distancing and frequent hand-washing, we can flatten the curve and get through this together.
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