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 the heart works as well, even for patients without pre-existing heart conditions. But what if you already have a heart condition or are recovering from a recent cardiovascular episode? Cardiac Partners offers heart patients insight into how COVID-19 is affecting these patients, 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 have heart complications as a result of 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 those with severe symptoms.
Although the development of 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 also more likely to have severe complications afterward. If you’re older than 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 included respiratory failure, septic shock, multiple organ dysfunction, and yes, even the possibility of death.
If you have a heart condition, it’s important to monitor your health frequently and to 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. 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.
Tips for Preventing COVID-19
Although 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 at least 6 feet away from others when in public spaces
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wear a mask if you need to leave your house
- Continue taking all medications as prescribed
Some experts 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 to steer clear of other infections.
In addition to your primary healthcare team, the Cardiac Partners specialists are here to help you keep your heart healthy through this crisis.