Categories: Coronavirus

COVID-19 and HEART PATIENTS

COVID-19, the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has sickened hundreds of thousands and continues to kill people worldwide, as also in India. Not only COVID-19, but other respiratory illness like influenza and SARS can worsen existing heart disease and can also cause new heart problems in otherwise healthy people.

Bombarded with queries from my friends, relatives and patients, I try to address some common questions pertaining to heart health:-

Q. Am I at more risk of getting COVID-19 as I have a heart condition, diabetes or high BP? Is the risk of developing severe symptoms similar for all patients?

No. The infection can be caught by anyone. However once infected, people with pre-existing heart diseases or diabetes or hypertension are more likely to show symptoms and more likely to have a more severe infection.

Q. Should I avoid going to the hospital for a check-up if I have pre-existing heart disease?

It is better to defer your routine check-up if you are asymptomatic. Telephonic or WhatsApp conversation with your doctor may be done.

Importantly, do not neglect the symptoms of heart disease. If you have worsening chest pain during exertion or at rest, shortness of breath or palpitations, or if you experience fainting episodes, visit your nearest hospital/doctor urgently.

Q. Should I change any of my medicine doses?

Please take all your medicines as prescribed. If in doubt, consult your doctor over the telephone. If you are regularly adjusting your blood-thinning medications or checking PT-INR periodically, please contact the doctor over the phone.

Q. What to do if I have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19?

 For mild fever, cough and body ache, call your doctor and seek advice over the phone; stay at home, maintain hand hygiene and wear a mask.

For worsening symptoms or shortness of breath, visit nearby Flu clinic or fever clinic, or a designated hospital.

Q. Is it true that coronavirus can cause heart problems like a heart attack or arrhythmias?

Yes, there is a theoretical risk of it. You can do nothing to prevent these problems. However, you can follow recommendations to prevent getting infected, such as social distancing, self-isolation, hand washing, etc.

Q. Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

 No. There is currently no evidence that humans can catch the disease from cats or dogs.

Q. Measures I can take to limit my risk of getting infected?

 Following are important—

  • Stay at Home
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Keep 2-metre distance from other individuals.
  • Wear a face mask when going out
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Q. What can I do to feel better during the lockdown period?
  • Eat healthily, build immunity. Take whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Get active- exercise daily/ practice yoga/ meditate
  • Stay busy with household chores
  • Listen to music, read a book, paint, do gardening, etc
  • Avoid negative message; watch the news once a day
  • Socialize with friends/relatives over skype/WhatsApp.

Remember this period is a small speed-breaker in our life. It will pass soon. Stay healthy; Stay safe; Stay at home.

Dr. Dipankar Das | Consultant Interventional Cardiology | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Guwahati
Narayana Health

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