Coronavirus: What heart and stroke patients need to know

Coronavirus: What heart and stroke patients need to know

(dramatic music) – The Cornavirus pandemic
has put countries on lockdown and the mission of the American Heart Association has never been more important. 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. Stroke survivors may face increased risk for complications if they get COVID-19. Hi, I’m Nancy Brown, CEO of
the American Heart Association joined today by Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for
prevention on our team. Welcome and thank you for being here. I know that as we think
about the COVID-19 pandemic, people with heart disease and stroke have a special reason to be concerned. Can you give us your perspective on that? – I think people with
heart disease and stroke are probably thinking about two things. Am I at higher risk for COVID-19? And I think the safe thing
to say is that persons with heart disease, you are
seemingly at higher risk of contracting the disease. You are also at higher
risk of complications if you get COVID-19. If you’re over age 60 or have
underlying health conditions you should exercise even more precautions and just stay home as much as possible. – So are the symptoms that these patients with coronary heart disease or
people who have had a stroke, do they exhibit different symptoms? – Common symptoms are cough,
fever, shortness of breath, but in some chest
pressure is a preliminary, a first symptom and what’s not clear is if that happens more in persons with underlying cardiovascular disease, wouldn’t surprise us if that was the case, but I can’t say definitively
that it’s the case. – Does COVID-19 do further
damage to the heart or brain for people who have heart disease or who have had a stroke? – From some preliminary data,
some of it out of China, and some of it perhaps out of Italy, indeed COVID-19 causes
damage to the heart muscle and when it does that it causes something called myocarditis and myocarditis is
basically an inflammation or infection of the heart muscle itself. Also, it appears that in
persons who have died, the cause of death was a fatal arrhythmia and it’s not entirely
clear why that’s happening, but that is a observation that’s been made that AHA would like to better understand. – Yeah that’s certainly
deserving of further study and we’ll come back and talk
about that in a few minutes. So, a question that we get a lot. Does the flu shot protect
you from COVID-19? – The flu shot will provide
no protection from COVID-19 and I think it’s really important that people understand that. So I’m willing to say if you
haven’t gotten a flu vaccine, go get one, but be six feet away from anybody who’s around
you when you go do that, but flu vaccine does not protect
individuals from COVID-19. – Yeah, and it’s easy to
understand why people are confused and certainly one of
the reasons we’re having this conversation today
is to provide clarity to people that may have heart disease or have had a stroke and one of the things that I’ve seen is a question of “Should I, if I am a heart patient, “keep taking my medication “or will my medication
make me more at risk “if I am exposed to COVID-19?” And we hope today to really
clarify the answer to that. – Yeah, if you are a
person with heart disease or have had a stroke and
you are on medications, please continue taking your medications. You are at risk of other bad things if you don’t take your medications. – Let’s transition to people who may test positive for COVID-19. So we know that there’s
been a lot of discussion about the need for
increased testing capacity and as more people are tested, there’s a likelihood that more
people will test positive. And if that’s the case,
what are the treatments? What is a person to do? And certainly there are mild cases and there are severe cases so maybe you could touch on both of those. – Where you got tested
isn’t a place where there’s a clear understanding that you have some underlying risk factors, that needs to be
communicated at the test site and/or with your cardiologist,
your neurologist, or your primary care doc, that’s critically important because of the things we talked about. What treatments are
available truly right now, the category of treatment is what we call supportive treatment. You will be treated for the
medical conditions you have and you will be receiving
things like IV fluids and other things that will help pathway through having COVID-19. – And shelter in place. And maybe talk about the
importance of reducing and eliminating exposure. Here you and I are
– Sure. – sitting today more than six feet apart,
– Sure. – let’s talk about that. – The idea of sheltering in place is that if you are on the low
risk side of a continuum and again you and your doctor
will get that figured out, the idea is that you
will stay where you are, take Tylenol for the fever and maybe take some cough medications. Your entire family needs to stay in place. Find a buddy before you get sick that’s gonna be somebody who
could bring you the things that you need if indeed
you have to stay in place for 14 days. And of course, the instruction will be if for any reason things advance beyond just cough and fever
to shortness of breath or any other serious concerns, you need to be in contact
with your provider. – You have vast experience in prevention and a real commonly asked
question among our heart disease and stroke patients and survivors is “Where are we at with
developing a vaccine?” – In an ideal world we
would have a vaccine that helps us prevent
COVID-19 from ever happening, not unlike an influenza vaccine and it would be administered
and it would protect you. We’d also by the time we’re
there in an ideal world we’d have treatments because sometimes people don’t get vaccinated
or can’t get vaccinated and in those instances we
would want a treatment. Right now the only
prevention is the prevention that we can each exercise as individuals. One is control the controllables and the other one is to act as if you have the virus right now. Do all the things that you
would do to keep someone else from getting that virus,
washing your hands a lot, making sure that you touch
surfaces as little as possible, that you touch your face
as little as possible, but before I touched anything else, I wash my hands thoroughly,
20 seconds or more. “ABC” or “Happy Birthday” are
both about 20 seconds long and also be sure that you
are washing down surfaces. We talked earlier, if
you happen to be somebody who’s in that high risk
category and packages come to your home, some
things that you can do in addition to what I just said, is A, that should be
left outside your door. You put that on a counter somewhere, you take things out, you
wash those things off, put them away, now you
can touch them later. Dispose of the container
and other packaging and then thoroughly wash your hands, clean the surface, wash your hands again. – Great advice Eduardo. Another question is “How can
organizations, businesses, “community organizations
help people at high risk?” – Well one is by making sure that all the things I’ve just said are communicated to employees. Two, it’s to make sure
that everything is done by that organization to
keep people from having to do anything but the essential movement that they have to do and the situation in the United States goes from where it is to where it will be when we
can more freely move around. – And the last thing I’ll just say is the American Heart Association is always there making a difference and we are here for our patients, we’re here for the broad public, and we’re also here to find
answers scientifically. We don’t know enough about that and that’s why the
American Heart Association will soon be announcing very rapid action, research grants for shovel ready research that can help us find answer to these. So we’d ask everyone to stay tuned and maybe we can have another discussion about those research
awards in the coming days. – Of course, it would make good sense that the American Heart Association would be trying to figure
out what is the effect of COVID-19 on the vascular
system, cardiovascular, cerebral vascular, and maybe even the peripheral vascular system. – And with that said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, thank you for your incredible
insight, your wisdom, and your steady leadership
during this time. We are all so grateful
to have had this chance to chat with you. – Well thank you for having me. – Thank you. For more information about the connection between COVID-19 and
heart disease and stroke, please visit us at

3 Replies to “Coronavirus: What heart and stroke patients need to know”

  1. I was sick just after Christmas..I was cleaning for nurses,many of them traveled to China on a regular basis.I was very sick,for a month I was unbelievably weak and would wake up in the night chocking on fluid with intense heaviness in my chest,pain in my heart,,severe arythmia and palipatations dizziness and coughing at night.i feel better now but I do feel it damaged my heart further than prior to becoming sick.I drank lemon juice with honey and cranberries to open up my lungs and I think it helped me regain my health.I also ate a lot of greens and took vitamin D and (C in large quantities) I took nutritional yeast, oregano oil and coconut oil in empty veggie capsules three times a day.most helpful for me was COQ10 to protect the strength of my heart.good luck!

  2. Look into ACE2 receptors and the virus. Hypertension patients may be at higher risk due to ACE Inhibitors increasing ACE2 receptors

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