Although health professionals knew early on that contracting the COVID-19 virus could lead to respiratory infection and permanent lung damage, it’s now becoming more clear that the virus could have lasting effects on the way your heart works as well, even for patients without pre-existing heart conditions. But what if you are already dealing with a heart condition, or are recovering from a recent cardiovascular episode? Cardiac Partners offers heart patients insight to how COVID-19 is affecting their population along with treatment options and prevention methods to help keep you healthy.
Complications for Heart Patients
Studies from past coronavirus and influenza epidemics suggest that patients with symptomatic COVID-19 may develop heart complications from the virus. Data from SARS and MERS viruses point to complications of coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmias or heart failure because of the high inflammatory response associated with the virus. This could happen to any patient, but especially in those with severe symptoms.
Although developing a heart complication after contracting a coronavirus is a risk for every patient, those with pre-existing heart conditions are not only more likely to catch the virus, but are also more likely to develop severe complications afterward. If you’re over the age of 65 and have heart disease or high blood pressure, there’s even an increased likelihood that you could need critical care if you’ve contracted COVID-19. Some of the most critical cases have reported respiratory failure, septic shock, multiple organ dysfunction, and yes, even the possibility of death in the most severe cases.
If you have a heart condition, it’s important to monitor your health frequently and keep an eye out for symptoms of COVID-19. Leaving the virus untreated could be dangerous. Common symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. You may also experience muscle pain, sore throat, nasal congestion and headaches if you are sick. It’s important to note that you can be asymptomatic for up to 14 days after contracting the virus. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor right away to get tested for COVID-19.
Staying Healthy and Treatment Options
While the outcomes may look or sound threatening for patients with pre-existing heart conditions, there are proven treatments available to combat the virus. Some treatments for COVID-19 are still being researched, so it’s most important to focus on prevention.
- Practice social distancing, staying six feet away from others (minimum) when in a public space
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wear a mask if you need to leave your house
- Continue taking all medications as prescribed
Some experts even suggest that patients with pre-existing conditions talk to their doctor about getting flu and pneumonia vaccines. These will not prevent COVID-19, but they may help you steer clear of superimposed infections along with the virus.
In addition to your primary healthcare team, Cardiac Partners network of specialists are here to help you keep your heart healthy through this crisis.