As of March 25, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention report 54,453 total cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the United States. Seven hundred and thirty-seven people have died in the U.S. Cases have been reported in all 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The CDC has stated that older adults and people of all ages who have underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of COVID-19-related complications. That includes people with serious heart conditions.
What do heart patients need to know about coronavirus and COVID-19? The American Heart Association provides lots of information. Here are six key points.
- Coronavirus primarily targets your lungs but those lung effects can affect a diseased heart that is forced to deliver oxygenated blood throughout your body. Previous coronaviruses — SARS and MERS, for example — were associated with heart muscle inflammation, heart attacks, and rapid-onset heart failure.
- Coronavirus is not just the flu, but precautions that are effective against the flu can help protect you against the coronavirus too.
- An underlying heart condition and a compromised immune system may go hand in hand. As a result, a heart patient may not respond as vigorously to exposure to any virus, including the one that can cause COVID-19.
- Illnesses caused by viruses can destabilize the plaque in a patient’s arteries. That fatty buildup in the arteries can cause blockages that prevent blood flow and increase the risk of heart attacks.
- A coronavirus infection can be masked by other conditions that cause similar symptoms such as fevers. Consider getting a flu shot to eliminate another source of fevers.
- If you have cardiovascular disease, make sure your vaccinations are up to date — that includes your pneumonia vaccination.
Underlying illness or not, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. Maintain social distance. Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.