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Call 9-1-1 for heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest

Do not hesitate to call 9-1-1, even during the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals are prepared. Don’t let COVID-19 destroy more lives.

6 key facts about COVID-19

What they mean for your health

1. Heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke are all medical emergencies. Immediate medical attention is essential to improve the chances of survival and better health outcomes.

What you need to know:

  • If you or someone with you experiences the signs of a heart attackstroke or cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1.
  • Emergencies are still emergencies. Hospitals have protocols and experts in place to treat people with heart or stroke symptoms – even during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Public health authorities are studying COVID-19 very carefully. What they learn is being shared with the medical community. Steps are being taken by emergency responders and hospitals to protect both their patients and their medical team members.
  • The risk of getting COVID-19 is similar for people with no health conditions as it is for those with a heart condition or vascular cognitive impairment, or who have had a stroke. 1
2. People with underlying medical conditions (such as heart conditions or stroke) and associated risk factors are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

What you need to know:

  • About 1 in 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 has at least one underlying medical condition or risk factor. 1
  • Emerging data shows that people with heart conditions are four times more likely to die from the virus than patients with no underlying conditions, and people with previous strokes are three times more likely to die3.

     People with high blood pressure have nearly 2 ½ times higher chance of dying if they contract COVID-19, than those with no underlying conditions4.

     Underlying conditions associated with an increased risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19 include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease, or a compromised immune system. 5,6

  • Risk factors associated with an increased risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19 include pregnancy, smoking, vaping, poor diet, and being age 65 and over.
  • Cardiac injury is common in patients with COVID-19. The death rate among COVID-19 patients with cardiac injury is 51% (1 in 2 people). 2
3. Despite some reports, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that heart medications may increase your risk of COVID-19.

What you need to know:

  • You should continue to take your heart medications as prescribed.
  • ACE inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme) and ARB  (angiotensin receptor blockers) are life-saving medications commonly used to treat both heart failure and high blood pressure. 7,8
  • You should continue to take all your medications as prescribed. If you stop your medications, you may feel worse from your health condition and require medical attention.
  • Talk to your healthcare providers before starting, stopping or changing your medications.
4. Preventing heart conditions and stroke and managing your health is more critical than ever.

What you need to know:

  • During this time of physical distancing and self-isolation, it is important that you manage your risk factors and live a healthy lifestyle at home.
  • Stay informed about COVID-19  and safe ways to meet your health goals and needs.
  • Exercise at home should include a heart-healthy component that is appropriate to your level of fitness and ability.
  • If you have serious concerns about your safety or self-management at home, talk to your healthcare provider.
5. Physical distancing does not mean social isolation.

What you need to know:

  • Social isolation is not good for your heart and brain health.
  • Strategies used to “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of the coronavirus (handwashing, physical distancing, avoiding in-person visiting) can be particularly difficult for people with memory, planning or mobility problems.
  • People living with dementia, stroke or heart conditions are often dependent on other people to help them. They may need help with buying groceries, preparing meals and bathing.
  • Care partners may find it difficult to help their loved ones while staying healthy and keeping a physical distance themselves. These resources can help.
6. Rehabilitation can and should continue for people with heart conditions or who have had a stroke.

What you need to know:

  • Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process; it helps people increase their ability to function, adopt healthy lifestyle changes and improve their quality of life.
  • Time spent in rehabilitation wards is being shortened during the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because people are more afraid of being in a medical setting.
  • In-person rehabilitation services for outpatients are very limited during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Rehabilitation in virtual formats (such as telephone and videoconference) has been effective in connecting professionals with patients to develop a plan, monitor progress and provide support.
  • Talk to your healthcare providers to find out what services you could access.
  • Watch our webinar on practical virtual rehabilitation and self-management techniques during COVID-19 for people living with heart conditions, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment.

References

1.   CDC. February 12–March 28, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.
2.   Shi S, et al. JAMA Cardiol. 2020.
3.   Chen R, et al. CHEST. 2020.
4.   Lippi G, et al. Pol Arch Intern Med. 2020
5.   Zhou F, et al. The Lancet. 2020.
6.   CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
7.   Wang K, et al. Circulation. 2020.
8.   Vaduganathan M, et al. N Engl J Med. 2020

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