What is a COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an acute illness caused by a novel coronavirus that mostly attacks the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system.  Most people have mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, dry cough, and body aches.  In more severe cases patients may develop a serious illness such as pneumonia or respiratory failure requiring a breathing machine, or ventilator, in the ICU.   Patients with chronic lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or compromised immune systems are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

When patients with pre-existing heart disease get sick with COVID-19 they can sometimes have congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, or a heart attack.  In rare cases, patients with COVID-19 can have inflammation of the heart muscle (called myocarditis) and experience chest pain or even cardiac arrest.  Medical literature suggests that 1 in 10 of patients with heart disease will die from COVID-19 compared to 1 in 100 among people who are otherwise healthy.

How can I prevent myself from getting COVID-19?

Avoid contact with sick individuals.
Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose, or face.
Wash your hands frequently.
When outside your home try to stay at least 6 feet from others.
Stay at home to minimize exposure (if advised by state and public health agencies).
Get adequate rest.

What do I do if I get sick?

Isolate yourself from others to avoid getting them sick.
Get plenty of rest.
Talk to your primary care provider to discuss whether you need testing for COVID-19

If I get sick when do I need to seek medical attention?   

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and do not need to be in the hospital.

You should seek medical attention immediately (e.g. emergency room) if you have:
Severe breathing difficulties
Severe chest discomfort
Severe weakness or
Feel very ill

If I have heart disease and I fall ill with a flu-like illness or COVID-19 what should I do?  

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms.   However, if you experience any increase in shortness of breath, weight gain, leg swelling, or chest discomfort please call your provider in the heart clinic.

You can learn more about COVID-19 from:

American College of Cardiology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Harvard Health Publishing