HEART DISEASE AND COVID-19 IS A DANGEROUS MIX
There’s a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. But what we do know is that older people and those with heart disease (who also are likely older) have a much higher risk if they get COVID-19. If a patient has severe heart disease and gets infected with COVID 19, they are more likely to get very sick and possibly die from it.
That’s all the more reason to ensure that all people with heart conditions get the care they need to optimize their health. And, at the same time, it is critically important that these individuals do not get hospitalized at this time when they do not absolutely need to be.
HOW SAFE ARE HOSPITAL PROCEDURES?
The risk of a heart procedure in a HOSPITAL is not just limited to the procedure itself, but also includes risks that are related to COVID exposure, which could change the risk-benefit ratio. This is the reason it’s important for patients to have an open, frank discussion about risk vs benefit of any procedure with their physicians.
This is especially important in hard-hit areas, where it is critical need to free up beds, physicians, and other staff to attend to COVID-19 patients. There is also an increased risk of exposure to viruses in these hard-hit hospitals.
Safe deferral of hospital procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic is only possible if patients have stable heart disease. Once their disease becomes unstable, rapid treatment of their cardiac conditions will save their lives. If symptoms progress, patients should get to the hospital urgently.
Heart patients need to take extra precautions since they are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition to social distancing measures, which include wearing a surgical mask and gloves, using hand sanitizer, and making sure to be tested for COVID-19 virus before the procedure. Patients should also disclose any symptoms they may be experiencing that could indicate they may have the corona virus.
HOW ABOUT OUT-PATIENT SURGERY?
Outpatient surgery in a freestanding ambulatory surgical center is a safer option. Most outpatient surgery centers do not take care of COVID 19 patients. Patients currently undergo testing before their schedule and outpatient surgery center may have different protocols for ensuring the attending staff stays COVID free.
If timely outpatient procedure allows patients to stay away from hospitals in the emergency rooms, it should be strongly considered.
IMPORTANCE OF TELEMEDICINE AND REGULAR CARDIAC FOLLOW-UP
For patients with Heart Disease especially if hospital procedure is delayed, close medical monitoring is essential. Patients should stay in regular contact with his physicians and report any new or worsening symptom. This applies even if you’re deemed stable enough to defer a procedure. Whether by phone or visiting with the doctor by video, patients should be clear in describing any changes to their symptoms. The doctors can then determine if there is a has been need for any further evaluation or rescheduling of your outpatient procedure. Some of these patients who’s surgery has been delayed will then need to be hospitalized, going directly to an inpatient bed is preferred. While emergencies like heart attacks are still handled in the ER, in general, there’s a focus on keeping patients who don’t need to be in the ER out of that high traffic area to lessen the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING AT HOME?
Keep high-traffic surfaces sanitized and wash your hands frequently. If you have additional household members, ensure they are following social distancing guidelines.
WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING OUTSIDE MY HOME?
- Avoid leaving your home for unnecessary reasons
- Keep out of high traffic indoor areas in public spaces
- Wear a mask at all times if you are indoor in a public space
- Use hand sanitizer before and after touching store items, doors, or any other shared
WILL MY CHILDREN GIVE ME COVID-19?
If your children / grand-children do not follow social distancing guidelines, it is recommended you isolate from them
IS MY DOCTOR’S OFFICE SAFE?
Check with your doctor’s office for their COVID-19 infection control and prevention policies and protocols.