How Coronavirus affects your heart
As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, we are learning more about how it affects us. Medical experts have stated that older adults and people with existing medical conditions — including heart disease — are at higher risk from the new coronavirus.
For the tens of millions of U.S. adults with heart disease, that warning raises a lot of questions. The new coronavirus is a respiratory disease, meaning it mostly affects the lungs. But when the lungs aren’t working at full steam, the heart has to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood around the body. That added stress can be dangerous for people with heart disease.
COVID-19 poses a greater risk to people who have underlying conditions, including:
• Coronary heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Previous stroke
People in those groups may be at higher risk of catching COVID-19. They’re also more likely to develop severe symptoms if they get sick. Older adults with heart disease may be particularly vulnerable. Please adhere to the recommended best practices:
• Wash your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t get to a sink, use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces you touch a lot, like doorknobs, light switches, phones and keyboards (to name a few).
• Stay home (especially if your community has advised residents to shelter in place).
• Practice social distancing. Aim to keep 6 feet between you and other people if you do have to go out in the community.
• Stock up on refills of your prescription medications.
Protecting your heart during the pandemic
Some people who experience heart symptoms might hesitate to go to the emergency room during a pandemic. But you shouldn’t ignore signs of cardiac emergencies. Heart attacks, dissections, heart failure and arrhythmias are still occurring.
Contact your doctor if you have any new symptoms, including:
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Trouble breathing.
• Loss of taste and smell.
• Sore throat.
• Muscle pain.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.