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Experts say people who have underlying health conditions should guard against COVID-19.
In fact, CDC now says that U.S. adults with diabetes, chronic lung disease, and heart disease are at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated disease than people without these conditions. Latinos face a heavier burden for several of these conditions.
The American Heart Association even warned elderly people with heart disease or hypertension.
“Based on current information, it appears elderly people with coronary heart disease or hypertension are more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms,” according to AHA. “Stroke survivors may also face increased risk for complications if they get COVID-19”
According to the latest report from State Department of Health, out of the 4,758 deaths in New York since the first one March 14, 2020, the leading underlying illness was hypertension, which showed up in 55% of the deaths. Next was diabetes, about 37% of the cases.
Why Do Heart Disease Patients Need to Guard Against COVID-19?
More than 120 million Americans live with heart disease.
Research data suggest that people with heart (cardiovascular) and circulatory diseases are at higher risk of complications caused by coronavirus.
This includes people with cerebrovascular disease, which involves problems with the blood supply to the brain, such as stroke.
The virus could harm heart disease patients in several ways, according Orly Vardeny of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System and University of Minnesota.
“The virus’ main target is the lungs,” Vardeny said. “But that could affect the heart, especially a diseased heart, which has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body.”
COVID-19 causes severe inflammation in the body. This can trigger cardiac events like blockage and heart disease, according to a recent study from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. This situation could be worse among pre-existing heart disease patients.
The study also suggests that individuals with pre-existing heart conditions have a 10.5% fatality rate with COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is likely that even in the absence of previous heart disease, the heart muscle can be affected by coronavirus disease,” said study leader Dr. Mohammad Madjid at UTHealth. “Overall, injury to heart muscle can happen in any patient with or without heart disease, but the risk is higher in those who already have heart disease.”
What Should Heart Patients Do To Protect Themselves From COVID-19?
The American Heart Association has a list of guidelines for heart-disease patients during COVID-19.
Some of these include:
Follow recommended guidelines. People with heart disease should follow all recommended precautions with extreme vigilance. It’s highly recommended that you practice social distancing and basic hygiene. This includes washing your hands, and avoiding unnecessary contact with others.
Take your heart medication.The American Heart Association strongly advises people to continue taking all their medications unless advised differently by their doctor. Reports are circulating that some heart medications may increase your risk of COVID-19. There is no scientific evidence to suggest this is true.
Stay in touch with your doctor. During this outbreak, you should stay home as much as possible to lower your risk of virus exposure. However, seek medical care when you need it. If you have any questions, don’t wait to call your cardiologist or your primary care provider.
The AHA’s resources are also in Spanish.
They also have a great video, featuring Eduardo Sanchez, AHA’s chief medical officer for prevention.
Why Is Heart Disease Prevention Important for Latinos?
Heart disease is the No. 2 cause of death for U.S. Latinos. Cancer is No. 1.
Although overall rates of coronary heart disease and overall cardiac mortality are lower compared among Latinos than non-Latinos, reports suggest there is insufficient understanding of Latino heart health in general. This understanding is even cloudier when with respect to differences by Latino background.
Adding to the issue is that millions of low-income older Latino adults lack access to healthy food and adequate nutrition on a daily basis. They also face poverty and a lack of health care.
As coronavirus continues to spread, many health experts and civil rights advocates are pushing to get local and federal lawmakers to focus attention on communities of color.
Learn more about the coronavirus outbreak and it’s implications concerning health.