What to Do About the Coronavirus Outbreak If You Have Heart Disease?
Right now, it has been widely reported that people with pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes (type 1 & 2), a compromised immune system, and lung disease (such as asthma) are likely to develop more severe symptoms.
The American Heart Association is “advising caution” for elderly people with hypertension and coronary heart disease, as well as people of any age who have heart disease and a history of stroke.
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 increasing 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 60%+ 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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