If you have heart disease, likely your physician has already recommended some lifestyle changes to better manage your heart health. Now with COVID-19, you may wonder whether you need to make a few more.
Heart disease is one of several conditions that seems to raise a person’s risk for serious illness from coronavirus. People with underlying conditions like heart disease tend to have worse symptoms that require hospital care. They also may have poorer outcomes, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Here’s the good news: Having heart disease doesn’t mean you will definitely develop a serious illness from coronavirus. In fact, by keeping your heart disease in check — and taking some extra precautions — you can do a lot to protect yourself during this pandemic.
Talk With Your Physician About Your Coronavirus Risk
Oftentimes when people hear heart disease, they think of coronary artery disease. That’s when plaque builds up in the arteries and starts to block blood flow to the heart. It can lead to a heart attack.
But heart disease also refers to many other heart conditions. The CDC includes these:
- Abnormal heart rhythms, like atrial fibrillation
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
If you have a heart problem and are concerned about your risk during this pandemic, reach out to your physician. Use our AdventHealth App to schedule a video visit. Your doctor can assess your specific risk and provide you with more guidance, if needed.
Tips for Managing Your Heart Disease
Your doctor may give you specific steps to take to manage your heart disease. Stick with them. Along with following your physician’s advice, these tips can help:
Keep taking your medicines as directed. This includes any medication you take to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. These are two key health numbers that are important for a healthy heart.
Manage your stress levels. Strong emotions like anxiety and anger can trigger symptoms like angina. They can even lead to a heart attack.
Know the symptoms of a heart attack. According to the CDC, these include chest pain or discomfort, heartburn, nausea, fatigue and shortness of breath. Call 911 if you think you may be having a heart attack.
Keep up other healthy lifestyle measures. Exercising under the direction of your physician, staying at a healthy weight and eating healthy foods will help keep your heart in better shape.
Ways to Protect Against and Prepare for Coronavirus
There is not yet any specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. So the best way to protect yourself now is to avoid any exposure to coronavirus. The CDC recommends these steps for people at higher risk for severe illness:
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
- Forgo nonessential air and cruise ship travel
- Stay away from sick people
- Stay home as much as possible
- Wash your hands frequently
Also, make sure you have two to four weeks’ worth of medicine and supplies at home. Contact your physician via the AdventHealth App to see whether you can get an extra supply of medication. Use mail order if you can.
Also make sure you have an adequate supply of:
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand soap
- Over-the-counter fever-reducing medication like acetaminophen
It’s important, too, to make sure you have enough groceries and other household items to last a few weeks. That way, if you do become sick, you won’t have to leave the house to shop.
Keep Your Physician’s Appointments — Online
If you have any concerns about your overall health, your heart or possible symptoms of coronavirus, reach out to your physician for a video visit through the AdventHealth App. It’s an easy way to see your doctor online. Your physician can advise you on next steps to take.
You can also have a video visit with your doctor for any regularly scheduled checkups. Your physician can refill prescriptions and provide other needed care — all online. That way, you don’t have to risk leaving your home and exposing yourself to coronavirus.
And if you start to feel sick and think you may have coronavirus, contact your physician right away. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
Help for All Your Health Needs
We’re here to help you manage your heart disease and get through this pandemic. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub for additional informative resources.