COVID-19 and Heart Disease: How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Updated: Oct 19
COVID-19 is more likely to cause severe symptoms in those who have cardiac problems. What can they do to ensure that they are as secure as possible throughout this period?
COVID-19 is weighing heavily on everyone's thoughts, but it's especially concerning for those with underlying cardiac issues.
People with heart illness, such as high blood pressure and congenital heart abnormalities, are more prone to develop severe symptoms and problems when infected with COVID-19, according to the American Heart Association.
Here's what you should know and what you can do if you or a loved one has a cardiac issue:
What effect does COVID-19 have on the heart?
The COVID-19 virus predominantly targets the respiratory system and lungs when it enters the body.
When the lungs get sick, oxygen delivery to the heart is reduced, putting the heart under a lot of strain. This might raise the risk of a heart attack or heart failure in someone who already has heart disease and is having trouble pumping adequately.
The COVID-19 virus may potentially infect the heart muscles directly, producing inflammation and edema, as well as cardiac muscle damage and arrhythmias.
Patients who have a severe COVID-19 infection appear to have an increased risk of blood clots forming in their blood vessels. This might raise your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
A person with a cardiac disease may also have a weakened immune system, making it more difficult for them to fight off the infection. This implies that if they become infected, the virus is more likely to persist and create problems.
How can you stay safe as a heart disease patient?
You've certainly heard it before, but keeping a safe distance and maintaining proper personal hygiene are our best weapons against the virus.
This is especially important if you have a heart issue! Follow these golden guidelines at all times:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds each time
Stay home as much as possible
When you have to leave the house, wear a mask and keep at least a 1m away from other people
Avoid touching any part of your face without first washing your hands
See a doctor immediately if you feel unwell
In addition to the above, heart patients can protect themselves better with these tips:
Stay in close contact with your healthcare providers, and find out if online consultations are available
Ensure you have a sufficient supply of your prescribed medications, and find out if your healthcare provider can deliver refills
Keep handy a list of support contacts – such as relatives, friends and neighbours – whom you can call on for help if needed
Stay connected with family and friends through voice or video calls
Ensure that your vaccinations, such as Influenza and Pneumococcal vaccines, are up-to-date
When buying groceries, check ingredient labels and pick heart-healthy choices, such as lower sodium options
What are the ways to keep your heart healthy?
Taking COVID-19 safeguards isn't the only way to be safe and healthy. You can strengthen your heart and reduce your chance of a heart attack or stroke by making simple lifestyle adjustments.
Here are a few key heart-healthy practices to get into:
Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and mackerel, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables
Limit salt, sugar, processed and red meats, trans fats and cholesterol in your diet
Get moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week
Don’t stay seated for too long at a time – get up regularly for a little walk!
Find time each day to unwind and relax
When should you seek Medical Help?
Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are all symptoms of COVID-19. If you have these symptoms, visit a doctor right away or go to an A&E facility that is open 24 hours a day.
If you think you're having a heart attack or a stroke, go to the local A&E facility right away. Request a ride from a family member or call 995 for SCDF/ ambulance for emergency medical assistance.
Signs of a heart attack include:
Pain, pressure or a heavy feeling in the chest, arm or upper abdomen area
Pain that radiates to the arm, back, jaw or throat
Sweating, nausea or vomiting
Shortness of breath or a choking sensation
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Signs of a stroke include:
Weakness or numbness on one side of the arm or leg
Slurred or garbled speech
A droop or uneven smile on the face
Sudden confusion or difficulty understanding speech
Sudden dizziness or lack of coordination
Remember that excellent cleanliness, safe separation, and heart-healthy practices are essential for your protection at this time. Consult a cardiac expert if you have any worries about your heart's health.