Patients and COVID-19 Prevention
Dr. Omar Al Tamimi, Senior Consultant Cardiologist at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Heart Hospital says while people with cardiovascular disease should not panic over the spread of COVID-19, it is important that they are on alert, noting that those with heart disease are especially vulnerable to respiratory infections.
“Individuals with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, are at an increased risk when it comes to recovering from COVID-19. While this isn’t a time for panic, it is noteworthy that, globally, many of those who are experiencing severe complications from this virus have a heart condition. Therefore, it is especially important that cardiology patients take additional precautions,” said Dr. Al Tamimi.
Dr. Al Tamimi says the specific influence of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular system remains unclear and he notes there is no conclusive evidence that people with cardiovascular disease are more susceptible to contracting the virus. However, he says available data does show that those with underlying health conditions who contract the virus are more likely to have complications.
“For heart patients, prevention is key. While we don’t believe these patients are at a higher risk for getting the coronavirus, we do know that those who get it have a higher chance to suffer complications, just as they would with the seasonal flu,” said Dr. Al Tamimi.
“This virus mainly attacks the lungs, and the heart and lungs are interconnected. If your heart is already weak or you have blocked arteries, then you are already working harder than a healthy person to circulate blood and oxygen throughout your body. A patient who is already experiencing heart failure will have a heart that is under that much more stress, should they contract COVID-19,” added Dr. Al Tamimi.
“There is a lot we don’t yet know but initial data appears to show that patients with high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases have a significantly increased risk of death when they are infected with COVID-19. This doesn’t mean these patients should panic, but it does mean they should take prevention extra seriously,” added Dr. Al Tamimi.
Dr. Al Tamimi says since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, it’s important for people to practice social distancing and to temporarily change how they greet one another.
“Avoid handshaking, kissing, and hugging. Avoid places that have a lot of people. Respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 spread quickly in crowded spaces. Practicing proper hygiene and avoiding crowds does help reduce the spread of infection and is one of the most important ways you can protect yourself and your family from COVID-19,”said Dr. Al Tamimi.
Dr. Al Tamimi also stresses the importance of eating a diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, getting regular exercise, and making sleep a priority, aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has established a dedicated website (www.moph.gov.qa) to provide the public with updates on the current situation as well as information on how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. A hotline (16000), which is available 24-hours a day to answer COVID-19 related queries, and an educational social media campaign have also been launched, with the MoPH, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) sharing infographics and videos through their social media channels.