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.