/ by John Kotter, MD
In this rapidly evolving situation, we are constantly learning more about who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Early evidence suggests that patients with serious underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk. Today, cardiologist John Kotter, MD, of Gill Heart & Vascular institute speaks directly to our patients with heart disease, providing useful information and guidance.
It takes a lot of energy for your body to get better from an illness. People with underlying medical problems are less able to meet the increased demands of their bodies when they have an acute illness (like COVID-19, influenza or bacterial pneumonia). It is clear that individuals with a history of heart disease including heart attack, stroke, diabetes and lung disease (like COPD or asthma) are at increased risk of experiencing severe complications from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.
If you have heart disease, it is important to follow the latest CDC guidelines to avoid contracting the virus. Currently, this includes taking precautions to avoid direct contact with other people, using excellent hand hygiene, avoiding crowds and staying at home as much as possible.
At UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, we are rescheduling all routine clinic appointments and procedures so that patients do not have to spend time in waiting areas with other people who are also at risk of complications. If you have a condition where you need to be seen, reach out to your provider to discuss options. Your provider will be practicing best practices to minimize the risk of transmitting an infection.
These are stressful times. It is normal to be feeling extra stress. Some things you can do to deal with this stress (and promote a healthy heart!) include the following:
- Take breaks from the news and social media. Continually hearing about the pandemic can be difficult.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Find time to exercise.
- Connect with your friends and family (through technology, not in person).
If you personally are not at a higher risk but have a loved one who is, help them minimize trips to public areas by offering to do their grocery shopping or go to the pharmacy to pick up their medication. Even simply calling someone to let them know that you are thinking about them can go a long way in helping someone feel better.