COVID-19 presents a particular set of challenges for those living with heart failure. The condition, marked by weakened hearts unable to pump blood at full strength, needs careful attention during these trying times.
There are a number of concerns surrounding heart disease patients—of which there are six million in the United States—during COVID-19, including increased susceptibility to inflammatory stress and a weakened immune system.
Because people with heart failure have been identified as high-risk for a serious infection, the American Heart Association (AHA) has a set of recommendations to help people monitor their condition.
A daily checklist can help you manage symptoms, pay attention to important signals of health, and keep your healthcare team in the loop. The things to monitor include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Whether or not you can perform the same level of physical activity as the previous day
Because of the pandemic, the recommendation is to use telemedicine instead of going to the hospital to report these changes. Going to your doctor, or a hospital, can put you at risk for COVID-19. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1.
Some other guidelines for people with heart failure, heart disease, or other high-risk conditions include limiting exposure to all individuals who do not live in your home.
If you have grocery delivery services or family available that can shop and leave food at your doorstep, utilize these resources instead of running these errands yourself.
Depending on the stage of your heart failure, there are ways to manage symptoms at home. You can do your best to lower blood pressure by including some activity each day, making heart-healthy food choices, and sticking to your regular treatment regimen.