As COVID-19 outbreaks rise among seniors, heart organizations are stepping in to protect heart disease patients. In an update (May 7, 2020), the American Heart Association detailed joint efforts with national and global experts to fight both COVID-19 and heart disease. To date, the AHA has dedicated $2.5 million dollars towards understanding “COVID-19 and its interaction with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.” The AHA has also launched free Oxygenation & Ventilation courses for frontline healthcare providers.
To further boost efforts to protect seniors, the AHA has created CPR training-related resources, updated guidelines for effective home care, and launched nutrition and financial support programs for seniors.
Similarly, home healthcare organizations like David York Agency continue to see demand for nursing assistants across New York. Currently, 22 home health aides are poised to fill critical positions in COVID-19 units in New York City and Long Island.
COVID-19 and Heart Disease
For now, our understanding of COVID-19 supports one overriding conclusion. It’s a respiratory disease that chiefly impacts the lungs. In turn, this has crucial implications for the heart.
The heart pumps blood that carries oxygen (as well as nutrients) to every part of the body. If lung capacity is compromised by COVID-19, blood oxygen levels will drop. So, the heart pumps harder and more frequently to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
Undeniably, the strain that COVID-19 puts on the heart can lead to serious problems. The American Heart Association warns that heart patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity may be at heightened risk of COVID-19. Even people without underlying complications “are developing deadly arrhythmias from infection and inflammation that damage heart muscle…”
The First Line of Defense Is Prevention
The first line of defense against COVID-19 should be prevention. By now, you may be aware of the rules and routines to protect your loved one from infection: hygienic hand-washing practices, social distancing, and regular disinfecting of high-touch surfaces. These are especially critical first lines of defense for seniors with comorbidities (the presence of two chronic diseases in a patient).
Preventive efforts for heart-disease patients, especially older individuals, are likely to be far more effective if patients stay home, however. According to the CDC, patients in nursing care facilities are at the highest risk of COVID-19.
Pay Attention to Cardiovascular Emergencies
Much fear surrounds the COVID-19 crisis. According to Cardiologist Peter Cremer, M.D., people who experience heart symptoms may be reluctant to go to the hospital or clinic. Across the country, hospitals have seen a 40% drop in cardiovascular cases. And, in New York City, EMT calls for cardiac arrest quadrupled between March 30th and April 5th. Many of the patients could not be revived.
So, seniors shouldn’t hesitate to go to the hospital or emergency room at the sudden worsening of particular symptoms.
But, what about heart medications? Presently, doctors don’t yet know how heart medications affect the virus. So, patients should continue to take all heart medications until advised otherwise by their physicians. Discontinuing a prescribed medication for high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular condition may increase the risk of COVID-19.
Finally, all geriatric heart patients must remember that the COVID-19 crisis will end. What remains is the role heart health will play in the quality of life in ensuing days. Thus, the practices that promote heart health must be sustained throughout this crisis. These include a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise (at least 30 minutes a day), stress-reduction, and social discourse. All exert a positive influence on heart health.
COVID-19 and Heart Disease: David York Agency Will Protect Seniors
David York Agency understands the challenges of caregiving and is willing to provide all the support you need during this time.
If you’d like more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
David York Agency Home Healthcare remains committed to providing personalized care for your loved one. If you have questions about our services, please contact us. We can help you through the difficult times and give you the break you deserve!