Heart Diseases and Coronavirus: 8 Things People Need to Know and Do to Stay Safe

Serious crisis calls for serious actions! Here's everything you need to about cardiac problems and stay fit
Heart Diseases and Coronavirus: 8 Things People Need to Know and Do to Stay Safe
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Entrepreneur Staff
Features Editor, Entrepreneur India
5 min read

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The ongoing virus outbreak certainly impacts those with low immunity but if you are someone suffering from heart disease, you need to be more careful than ever. This is one of those times when being extra cautious is a must! Because little mistake of yours can cost you the unexpected! 

Research suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can cause cardiac injury or heart damage to those who are not prone to underlying heart problems. Which simply means, everyone can get affected. Here's when lifestyle and diet change is essential to stay healthy. Serious crisis calls for serious actions!

Entrepreneur India spoke to Dr. Prathap Kumar N, Chairman & Managing Director and the Chief Interventional Cardiologist of Meditrina Group of Hospitals, an esteemed cardiologist in India and the person to start cardiac cath lab service by PPP model in an ESIC hospital who shares some vital key healthcare advice for the cardiac patients. Here are eight things that you need to know and do to keep your heart healthy and wealthy! 

Are patients with a known clinical history of heart diseases at greater risk?

Dr. Kumar: Low immunity levels among people suffering from cardiac ailments place them in a high-risk category of contracting Covid-19. Older patients with cardiac conditions including coronary heart disease are also at a higher risk of getting infected with the deadly virus. The fatality rate for heart patients suffering from Covid-19 is higher as compared to normal people with no known history of heart disease.

Do patients testing positive for Covid-19 tend to develop heart-related ailments and complications? 

Dr. Kumar: Though known to primarily affect the respiratory system (particularly lungs) of an infected person, patients who test positive for Covid-19 also tend to develop heart-related complications. It has been proven that Covid-19 can exert a debilitating impact on the heart conditions of people. The virus is known to adversely affect the working of heart muscles, often leading to complications like cardiac arrest. Those suffering from heart ailments must understand that with a considerable slowing down of the functions of respiratory organs, the workload of the heart increases substantially.

Heart patients in the older age bracket are at a greater risk of fatality as compared to younger patients who have tested positive for the virus?

Dr. Kumar: Covid-19 patients in the older age bracket are at a greater risk of fatality as compared to younger patients testing positive for the virus. While the average incidence of death among the young generation of patients is 2.5% on account of Covid-19, the death rate among older patients is higher at above 5%. For patients aged 70 years, the death rate is 8% and above, and for patients above the age of 80 years, the fatality rate is 80% and above.

Can the morbid fear and disease-induced anxiety of contracting Covid-19 be a contributory factor to accentuating the risk of cardiac arrest?

Dr. Kumar: More than the actual virus itself, it is the morbid fear of contracting the virus that plays havoc with the psyche of patients suffering from cardiac ailments. It can take a heavy emotional toll on people having a history of cardiac ailments. The resultant stress or hypertension can play a triggering role in heightening the risk of cardiac arrest among heart patients.

What potential lifestyle changes should cardiac patients follow to avoid Covid-19?

Dr. Kumar: Cardiac patients should ensure that they get enough sleep. They should also stringently abide by the health directives issued by the health department to ensure that they do not contract the disease through community spread. They should also avoid family get-togethers or socializing with friends as such occasions will enhance the chances of infection. They should place the onus on following a normal active lifestyle to maintain the normal functioning of their hearts.

What exercises cardiac patients can follow?

Dr. Kumar: Cardiac patients should not alter their regular exercise schedules. They should maintain a daily fitness regimen. One can begin with 5 minutes of stretching or moving before the start of any exercise. Heart patients should choose moderate activities like brisk walking, light jogging, or swimming which will help to strengthen their heart muscles. This will not only help to lower the blood pressure but also keep cholesterol under control. At the same time, one should avoid over-exertion by taking rest between sets and repetitions. One should seek medical advice from the doctor before getting into a new exercise regime. 

To increase immunity what nutritional elements cardiac patients need to have?

Dr. Kumar: First and foremost, heart patients should avoid saturated fats, sodium, and sugar in excess quantities in their diet. Cardiac patients should eat a nutrient-rich diet which will help boost immunity and help protect their cardiovascular health. The diet plan should predominantly comprise of leafy green vegetables which are rich in antioxidants. Whole grains, berries, and walnuts should also form a key part of the diet for patients suffering from cardiac problems.

What types of health supplements can one opt for to ensure the well-being and a healthy heart?  

Dr. Kumar: Usually, we don’t recommend any health supplement to cardiac patients. However, patients with high triglyceride are nowadays prescribed daily 4 grams of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

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