A global pandemic is causing havoc as no one is in a position to tackle the situation. People are in a panic as they are clueless about what to do and what not. People of all ages are becoming ill irrespective of their health status. No one can ever claim that they are at least risk.

The trend seems to continue exponentially. By every passing day, the number of infected persons is increasing; the death rate is increasing and the risk of infection among other healthy people is also increasing. Amidst all these happenings, older adults, infants, the elderly and people who are above age 60 seem to be at increased risk. Some people are at very high risk irrespective of their age – for instance, individuals with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic respiratory syndrome, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and pneumonia are at very high risk of suffering from severe infection if they get infected by a coronavirus. Elderly people are at risk of developing severe respiratory complications and lung disease (pneumonia). Similarly, patients who are receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, patients with concomitant leukaemia and lymphoma, kidney transplant, liver transplant patients, end-stage kidney disease patients and liver disease patients and immunosuppressed patients and patients with the compromised immune system (with autoimmune diseases) are at risk.

Who Else are at Risk?

All are at risk – there is no excuse for anyone. Even those who are asymptomatic can develop complications (severe respiratory distress). However, people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing complications owing to more severe infection compared to others. Older adults, older women, the elderly and pregnant women with concomitant heart disease are at increased risk of severe infection.

People with obstructive form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, congenital cyanotic heart disease, heart failure, and dilated cardiomyopathy are the other category of people who may be at higher risk of developing severe infection.

Individuals who have implanted pacemaker devices and cardioverter-defibrillators have so far not been shown to have their implanted devices infected by a coronavirus. There is no evidence-based confirmation in this regard.

People falling under high-risk category (individuals above age 60) and those who are suffering from any of the above-mentioned diseases irrespective of any age, must adopt the following measures to minimize the risk of infection:

  • Individuals who are at high risk must get themselves confined to their homes.
  • No matter who calls, don’t get out from your safety cocoon. Always stay at home
  • Spend lots of your time in your room.
  • Request your relatives and friends not to visit your home to see you. Keep them updated regarding your health – text, call or message them.
  • Stockpile all your essential medicines and ensure that you have at least three months’ supply with you.
  • Maintain at least three feet distance with your family members.
  • Personal hygiene and respiratory hygiene are always important for you. Keep yourself clean
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 35 seconds). Keep a hand sanitizer at your disposal.
  • If you see someone sneezing and coughing or has symptoms similar to cold and flu, then request them to go quarantine.
  • If you have existing heart disease, then follow the instructions of your cardiologist.
  • Take all of your prescription medicines as per the instructions of your doctor or cardiologist.
  • For general health and hygiene, follow the instructions of community health officers, local health authorities and general medical practitioners or any hospital of your area.

Extended and unprecedented lockdown anywhere or in any region of this world can make you mentally and physically weak – owing to which you may feel down. You don’t even feel like eating healthy. Self-isolation or quarantine can sometime lead to boredom, stress and exhaustion – which eventually lead to unhealthy eating habits.

This will weaken your immune system. But you can cope up with this situation by managing your time and prioritizing your tasks and activities with a fixed daily routine. The best way to take care of your health – a fixed daily routine, healthy lifestyle and adherence to your time table.

What is the Link between Heart Disease and COVID-19

From the reports coming from the regions where COVID-19 has widespread, people who have been infected have respiratory symptoms such as breathing difficulty and pneumonia. However, according to recent reports, severe cardiovascular complications have been reported in about 15 to 20% of the hospitalized patients.

There are some reported cases of people experiencing heart attack and developing congestive heart failure after being infected by COVID-19 if they have pre-existing heart disease.

The complications associated with the heart may be due to rapid worsening of heart’s health – owing to a severe viral illness, respiratory illness, low levels of oxygen (due to pneumonia) and huge demand on working of heart (increase heart beats and pulse due to fever and inflammation). Apart from these heart-related complications in COVID-19 patients, myocarditis (an unusual heart condition) has also been observed in patients suffering from coronavirus infection.

How much is the risk for those who have pre-existing cardiovascular disease?

The risk of getting severe infection and death is up to 10% more in patients who have cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to normal healthy individuals. In healthy individuals the risk of developing severe infection and life-threatening complications is only 1% – which means the risk of dying from COVID-19 infection is only one percent in healthy individuals.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Your Heart While at Home

  • Maximize your online presence in these tough times – be connected with the world around: remain active on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media.
  • Remain connected with all your friends and family members.
  • Quit smoking, avoid alcohol and never take the support of drugs to cope up with the tense situation.
  • Remain busy with the activity you enjoy the most.
  • Get engrossed in some type of creative activity and take breaks in between.
  • Never remain sedentary – just walk around, relax and jog.
  • Trust only authentic sources and get the information from those sources only. Subscribe only reliable channels for information.
  • It is better to avoid listening to news and watching television and videos pertaining to the outbreak – instead read interesting novels or books.
  • Involve in routine activities according to a set time table and plan – take time to meditate and relax, do exercise, eat a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and stay hydrated.

When to Take Medical Help, if you have pre-existing heart disease?

People at increased risk must take action immediately as they cannot take their health for granted. If you feel even slight bit of change in your health and well-being, you must have to take action immediately. If you have pre-existing heart disease – cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, or any other type of heart disease, then you must call your doctor and seek medical help. Anyone with heart disease experiencing chest pain, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, cough, mild or high fever, must call their doctor immediately or visit a hospital. When you call to seek an appointment with a consultant or go to an emergency department of a hospital, inform the respective hospital about the purpose of you seeking care. Explain them about the symptoms you have and tell them that you are calling them with regard to the risk of COVID-19 infection you have due to your propensity.