While social distancing guidelines are starting to ease and states are beginning to reopen, the lingering threat of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) remains a constant. This is especially true for individuals with underlying health issues, like congestive heart failure (CHF), where one pressing question remains a concern: Does my comorbidity increase my chances of contracting COVID-19?
As a relatively new disease, our medical understandings of coronavirus and the way it affects certain, high-risk individuals are constantly evolving. However, one of the best ways that you can stay on top of managing CHF during this pandemic is by learning all that you can about its relationship with COVID-19. Here are some frequently asked questions surrounding this topic and ways that you can protect yourself in public.
Does CHF Increase Your Risk of Contracting COVID-19?
Serious heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure, may put you at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And those over the age of 65 with CHF are more likely to develop severe symptoms. That being said, as of now, congestive heart failure doesn’t seem to increase your chances of contracting COVID-19; you have the same risk of falling victim to the disease as any other healthy person who is maintaining healthful practices and following CDC guidelines.
CHF & COVID-19: The Risk of Complications and Exacerbations
COVID-19 predominantly affects the respiratory system, which could exacerbate heart conditions as the organ works harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body. Congestive heart failure already affects the heart’s ability to effectively pump enough blood throughout the body, with symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
- Blood and fluid buildup in the lungs
These symptoms are similarly found in coronavirus, making CHF and COVID-19 a dangerous combination that can exacerbate like symptoms and challenge an already-weakened immune system. That being said, preexisting cardiovascular conditions can put people at increased risk for developing serious complications from coronavirus.
How Can Those With CHF Stay Safe From COVID-19?
Due to the increased risk of complications for those with CHF and COVID-19, the importance of following CDC guidelines for social distancing and good hygiene practices cannot be stressed enough. If you are at higher risk of getting extremely sick from coronavirus due to your underlying heart condition, here are some safety measures that you should take to protect your health:
- Wash your hands often. Thoroughly washing your hands after you’ve been in a public place is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others during this pandemic. Lather your hands with soapy water and scrub for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person via respiratory droplets.
- Avoid venturing into crowds/public spaces. COVID-19 is tricky in that you can be a carrier with no symptoms or very minor symptoms. This is particularly dangerous in public settings, where you are more likely to come in contact with the contagious droplets. For those at high-risk, avoiding these public settings altogether, maintaining the regulated 6-foot social distancing guidelines, and wearing cloth face coverings are the best defensive strategies.
- Stock up on household essentials and medications. It’s extremely important to have an adequate supply of heart failure medications and access to refills from your providers, as it can help limit your exposure to public settings. Learning how to use your smartphone or computer for home deliveries and to schedule acute in-home care visits can also help you manage your social settings during this time.
Most importantly, watch for symptoms! COVID-19 symptoms vary among people, and those with CHF might experience exacerbations of their own condition without connecting the dots. If you notice a cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of sense of smell and/or taste, and diarrhea, then reach out to a caregiver, your primary healthcare provider, or contact DispatchHealth for urgent assistance.
How DispatchHealth Can Help
DispatchHealth is one of the most trusted house call services for acute medical needs—including congestive heart failure exacerbations and coronavirus (COVID-19) related symptoms. Our processes and practices are constantly evolving in response to COVID-19, where we remain committed to ensuring that our patients receive the prompt medical attention that they need in an environment that is comfortable and safe—two things that are extremely important in these times. In addition to enforcing strict sanitation and protection protocols, our teams will arrive at your place of need with most of the equipment and technologies found at a traditional ER.
To learn more about how DispatchHealth is responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) for those with congestive heart failure and other underlying health concerns, contact us today! Requesting care is as easy as contacting us via phone, mobile app, or through our website.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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