Last updated: 15 May 2020 11.05am
Everyone is at risk of developing COVID-19 (coronavirus) if exposed to it.
If you have heart disease, you need to take extra care to protect yourself from COVID-19. If you contract the virus you have a higher chance of developing complications. This may result in you becoming critically ill.
Heart disease and COVID-19
A lot of viral infections can affect the heart, and COVID-19 is no different. Viruses are known to cause inflammation of the heart muscle.
If you have heart disease, or you live with or care for someone who has heart disease, you need to:
If you have heart disease you should:
- follow medical advice on how to keep your condition well controlled
- maintain a healthy diet – unless you have been told to stick to a specially prescribed diet
- try and do some form of exercise everyday – even for few minutes
- watch for new symptoms -especially high temperature, cough and shortness of breath
- phone your GP or nurse immediately if you notice any new symptoms or if you feel unwell
- keep a list of all the medications you take
- let your family, friends or neighbours know about your condition as you may need help if you become ill
- plan for how you can get food or other supplies if you cannot get them yourself or if you become ill - community supports are available
More information and support for people with heart disease is available on the Irish Heart Foundation website.
Advice for specific heart conditions
Heart transplant patients or cancer patients who also have heart disease are probably the most vulnerable to this virus. They need to be extra vigilant and need to cocoon.
Pacemakers and other implants
There is no evidence that COVID-19:
- infects implanted devices such as pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators
- causes infective endocarditis in those with heart valve disease
If you have Brugada Syndrome and you get a fever, take paracetamol as soon as possible to treat it. It is very important that you try to keep your temperature below 39 degrees Celsius. Ring your doctor for advice if you develop a fever.
If you have had myocarditis or pericarditis you are not at any higher risk of developing the same condition again from COVID-19.
If you have a heart condition, wearing a mask may make breathing more difficult. You should consult your doctor or nurse for advice on this.
Continue to take all medications exactly as prescribed. Do not make any changes without contacting your GP or nurse.
Make sure that you have an adequate supply of medications.
Keep an up to date list of all medications you are currently taking.
Get medical help for symptoms of heart attack or stroke
Do not ignore or delay seeking medical treatment for symptoms of heart attack and stroke.
It is important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.
If you, or someone with you, have chest pain or stroke symptoms, call the emergency services on 112 or 999.
Signs of a heart attack
- Your chest feels tight or heavy.
- You have pain that spreads to your arms, back, neck and jaw.
- You feel or are being sick.
Signs of stroke - FAST
The FAST acronym was created to help you remember the main warning signs of stroke.
FAST stands for:
Face - Has their face fallen on one side. Can they smile?
Arms - Can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
Speech – is their speech slurred?
Time - To call 112 or 999 if you see any single one of these signs.