If you have a heart condition, your health is probably at the top of your mind most of the time, and the specter of COVID-19 sweeping the country has likely made your health a serious concern.
The following information describes what you need to know about cardiology and COVID-19.
A novel virus
The virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19 belongs to a family of coronaviruses. It’s called a “novel” coronavirus because it’s new; scientists have never seen this form of virus in humans before.
This coronavirus is named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease that it causes in humans is named COVID-19. It spreads from person to person via exhaled respiratory droplets.
Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new, unknown virus, doctors and researchers are still learning about what it does in the human body. So far, COVID-19 is mostly considered a respiratory disease, but there are some indicators that it also attacks the body’s vascular system.
For people with cardiovascular disease, attacks on the vascular system can be devastating.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19. Prevention is, of course, the best medicine. But you should also know that if you become infected, you don’t automatically face the worst possible outcome, the team at Heart & Vascular Institute said.
Protect yourself as much as you can
Most transmissions of SARS-CoV-2 happen when an infected person breathes out respiratory droplets and another person inhales them.
With each breath, we release respiratory droplets, and when we talk, sing, laugh, yell, or breathe harder than usual, we release many more respiratory droplets. Anyone standing nearby unknowingly inhales some of your droplets, and you theirs.
The best way to avoid breathing in infected droplets is to stay away from people. Staying at home, away from others, is the best way to protect yourself. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to get out.
Cover your face
When you leave home, wear a mask. A cloth face covering offers some protection to the wearer, but is much more effective at keeping your respiratory droplets from reaching others. When everyone covers their mouths and noses, there’s much less chance of transmission, according to Heart & Vascular Institute.
Maintain physical distance
Experts suggest staying at least 6 feet from other people. In most cases, especially if other people are breathing normally, that’s far enough away to avoid inhaling their respiratory droplets — especially if you both have your faces covered.
Outdoors is better
If possible, spend time outside when you’re around other people. There’s more air for respiratory droplets to disperse, and less chance of breathing them in and becoming infected. For example, exercise outside instead of at the gym.
Less exposure is better
The less time you’re around someone who’s infected, the less chance you have of becoming infected. If you need to go to the grocery store, take a list and plan your trip to be as efficient as possible, so that you’re in the store around others for the shortest amount of time possible.
Get care when you need it
One disturbing problem that’s become apparent during the pandemic is that people aren’t always getting the care they need, possibly because they’re afraid of going to a doctor’s office or other health care facility.
If you have any symptoms, like chest pain or discomfort, weakness, or confusion, or any other heart symptoms, seek care immediately, the experts from Heart & Vascular Institute said.
Heart & Vascular Institute is accepting in-person appointments, and says they’re happy to help answer questions. Learn more or schedule at any of the Institute’s three locations in Dearborn, Detroit and Southfield.