Getting to the heart of COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread nationally and around the globe, leading Sydney cardiovascular experts have provided advice for Australian’s with heart risk factors in the evolving situation.

Professor Nigel Jepson, Interventional Cardiologist at Prince of Wales Hospital and Medical Director of Eastern Heart Clinic in Randwick NSW says that while Australia is “doing well so far” with acting to contain the spread of COVID-19, we “must increase vigilance and adopt even stricter measures” to avoid the trajectory the disease has taken in Norther Italy.

Particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 are the 1.2 million Australians currently living with cardiovascular disease (CVD) – more than 26% of those aged 75 and over have heart, stroke and vascular disease.

This group along with people with other conditions that affect the heart, including high blood pressure, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes are at increased risk of developing complications if they contract COVID-19.

“We don’t want to create fear or panic but I don’t think we’re really getting the message across that, while for most of us COVID-19 would be an innocuous disease to get, we need to adopt caution and care to slow the rate of spread … in order to protect those who could be more seriously affected,” advises Professor Jepson.

Professor Jepson advises that people living with CVD start following heightened social distancing and hygiene measures.

Ways people with CVD can reduce their risk of COVID-19

  • Avoid large gatherings e.g. theatres, cinemas, concerts and shopping centres.
  • Exercise caution when using public transport.
  • Don’t travel unnecessarily.
  • Shop for essentials during quiet, off-peak, times. Stock up on groceries (within reason) and consider online delivers – family and friends can help.
  • Postpone non-urgent medical appointments or procedures or consult with your health professional by phone or ‘telehealth’ instead.
  • Stay healthy – eat well, get enough sleep and follow exercise regimes as recommended by your health professional.
  • Get vaccinated – stick to plans to get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia, and others as your doctor recommends.
  • Keep calm and carry on – if you live alone, think about low-risk activities you can do to socialise, such as meeting a friend outdoors for a walk.
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