One indirect effect COVID-19 has on heart health is tied to fear of the virus itself. Those experiencing symptoms of heart problems may avoid getting the help they need for fear of coming into contact with the virus at a hospital or doctor’s office.
“Patients are afraid — they don't want to come to the emergency department, they don't want to seek medical attention, because they're afraid of actually getting exposed to the virus in the emergency room or in the hospital,” said Dr. Daniele. “And, as a consequence, we're having patients coming in weeks later with severe, irreversible damage to their heart muscle.”
Vaccine safe for those with heart problems
If fear of the virus is keeping you away from seeking medical attention, one thing you can do to help protect yourself is get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been proven to be safe for most people — the exception being those who have had severe anaphylactic reactions to other vaccines.
Patients who take blood-thinning medication, or who have conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, or have suffered a stroke, may have concerns about safety in getting the vaccine. But these are exactly the people Dr. Daniele said should get the vaccine.
They are at the highest risk of having long-term effects if they contract the virus, including an increased chance of death.
“The people who are worried about the vaccine — because they have problems — are really the people who would benefit the most from the vaccine,” said Dr. Daniele.
“So absolutely anyone who has cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, especially overweight, diabetes, hypertension and immunocompromised … Those are all the patients who are at very high risk, and would absolutely benefit from the vaccine.”
Dr. Daniele said while the virus has taken a mental toll on many, it’s important to stay the course. Continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and stay six feet or more away from others — even after you receive the vaccine.
“We have to unite as a community, we have to look out for one another,” she said. “This is not a sprint; this is a marathon.”
See this story on MedWatch Today