As the whole world battles the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first identified in the province of Wuhan in China, doctors and academicians are researching for a cure round the clock. And all this research supports the first-hand experience of the Chinese that if one has a pre-existing medical condition, the recovery is very hard. A report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that people with chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) made up 13.2%1 of those who succumbed to the illness.
Are cardiac patients at risk?
With the reported prevalence of CVD at 54.5 million in India, we are at a higher risk. And doctors seem to agree on one fact – influenza hits out at your heart. That’s because the human body responds to the inflammation caused by the infection. As a result, your heartbeat becomes irregular2. Studies done in China indicate that there is a correlation between the severity of the illness in patients with CVD3.
Also, heart disease is related to the functioning of your immune system. Since the research for a drug that can control COVID-19 is still ongoing, the best you can do is take precautions, especially if you have chronic health conditions.
Measures to safeguard your heart
Here are a few things that you can do to keep safe4, 5.
- Practice basic, personal hygiene.
- Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Or use sanitizers with more than 60% alcohol content or alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and face.
- Avoid shaking hands or any such physical contact with people.
- Avoid going to crowded places, maintain social distance.
- Eat healthy nutrition-rich food and stay hydrated.
- Make sure you have enough medicines for your conditions.
- Reach out to the doctor immediately if you notice any other difficulties related to your pre-existing medical history.
- Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 like fever and dry cough. If you show these symptoms, make sure to follow self-isolation guidelines. Contact the helpline number +91-11-23978043 when you require assistance.
- Contact the authorized testing personnel and agency recommended by the government and be in isolation until the results come or the symptoms subside.
For the cardiac caregiver
- If you are a caregiver for the person(s) with cardiac diseases, make sure to have extra medication for their condition(s). Cardiac illness, more often than not, has comorbidities. So it is important that you know the medications prescribed to them.
- Monitor their food and fluid intake.
- Have a backup plan in case of emergencies.
- If you are a part of a clinical cardiovascular care team, here is a guidance sheet that can help. It augments the instructions issued by the authorities and official channels6.
And most importantly keep following the latest information on COVID-19 and stay updated. Follow credible channels of information and don’t fall prey to fake news!
- Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Internet]. World Health Organisation. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Provides Potent Reminder of the Risk of Infectious Agents [Internet]. American College of Cardiology. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2020/03/01/08/42/feature-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-provides-potent-reminder-of-the-risk-of-infectious-agents
- Ruan Q, Yang K, Wang W, Jiang L, Song J. Clinical predictors of mortality due to COVID-19 based on an analysis of data of 150 patients from Wuhan, China. Intensive Care Medicine [Internet]. 2020 Mar 3 [cited 2020 Mar 15];1–3. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00134-020-05991-x
- CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
- Advice for public [Internet]. who.int. 2019 [cited 2020 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- 5.COVID-19 Clinical Guidance For the CV Care Team [Internet]. American College of Cardiology. 2020 Feb [cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.acc.org//~/media/Non-Clinical/Files-PDFs-Excel-MS-Word-etc/2020/02/S20028-ACC-Clinical-Bulletin-Coronavirus.pdf