Heart disease is a risk for severe COVID-19 and complications

6 April 2020

Australians with heart disease who get COVID-19 are at higher risk of severe illness and more likely to need intensive care or to die, according to a consensus statement published by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Coinciding with the launch of the consensus statement, the Heart Foundation has launched a new campaign to inform Australians living with heart disease of their increased risk of complications from COVID-19.

The Heart Foundation campaign outlines precautionary measures that vulnerable people with heart disease can take. These include: good hygiene, social distancing, taking their current medications, (including blood pressure medicines), getting a flu vaccine, staying physically active and eating healthily. They should also seek medical help immediately if their heart condition worsens or becomes severe.

COVID-19 may also worsen existing heart conditions, such as heart failure and increase risk of a heart attack.

“We know from experience that when a virus targets the lungs, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the body. This can exacerbate problems in people who already have a heart condition, like heart failure. Viral infections can also increase a person’s risk of a heart attack,” Professor Garry Jennings, the Heart Foundation’s chief medical advisor and cardiologist, said.

The reasons for the link between heart disease and COVID-19 are still being investigated and are likely to be complex,” he said.

People are encouraged to sign up for COVID-19 updates and tips to look after their heart health from the Heart Foundation. More information is available at the Heart Foundation website or Helpline on 13 11 12.

References

1. Zaman S, MacIsaac AI, Jennings GLR, et al. Cardiovascular disease and COVID-19: Australian/New Zealand consensus statement. Med J Aust Published online: 3 April 2020. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2020/cardiovascular-disease-and-covid-19-australiannew-zealand-consensus-statement
2. Heart Foundation. COVID-19 and heart disease. All you need to know. https://campaigns.heartfoundation.org.au/covid-19/

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