Managing heart disease is never easy, but it feels tougher during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that heart conditions increase your risk of complications from the coronavirus.
Dr. Gurmeet Singh, associate clinical professor of critical care medicine and cardiac surgery at the University of Alberta, helps sort fact from fiction when it comes to this novel coronavirus and your heart health.
Call 9-1-1 if you think you’re having a heart attack. A cardiac event of any kind is an emergency. If you experience the signs of a heart attack, or worsening symptoms related to your heart condition, call 9-1-1 and go to the hospital. You will get treatment and processes are in place to help protect from contracting COVID-19 in hospital.
Continue taking your heart medications. There have been reports that some heart medications (ACE inhibitors or angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and ARBs or angiotensin receptor blockers) might allow the virus to more easily enter the cells in your body. Right now, we have no evidence that taking these medications increases your risk of getting COVID-19 or increases its severity. The benefits of taking these medications, which lower your blood pressure and more, outweigh the possible risks of not taking them.
Make sure you know how to contact your healthcare team and do so if you have questions.
Keep a supply of medications. Make sure you have enough for a few weeks but don’t stockpile them. If you are worried about your heart medications in any way, speak to your physician or pharmacist. Do not stop your medications on your own; get verified information from a healthcare profession.
Focus on heart-healthy habits. Keep up with what you are doing to prevent cardiac events. Exercise and eat healthy foods. Keep your stress levels low, if you can, and keep up your social networks. Make sure you know how to contact your healthcare team and do so if you have any questions at all about your heart health or health overall.
Trust evidence, not rumour. There is a lot of information about COVID-19 on social media and other channels. Some of it can be misleading. Organizations like Heart & Stroke and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society are curating and presenting information that's actually helpful and is based on the best evidence we have. Know that your physicians and other healthcare team members are available to you, even if it is by phone or video.