COVID-19 and the third wave – we are here for you

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   8th Jan 2021

Its normal to feel anxious about the current wave of COVID-19, however, we at the Irish Heart Foundation want you to know that you are not alone.

We are now in the middle of a third wave of COVID-19 and one that has made more people sick, and seen a lot more hospitalisations and admissions to ICU than at any other time during the pandemic. This can be a very anxious time, especially for those living with an underlying condition such as cardiovascular disease.

The best thing we can all do right now to protect ourselves and those we love is to stay at home.

In response to rising case numbers of COVID-19 the Government has advised that we are now in level 5 of the living with COVID plan and this time everything even the schools have been shut until at least the end of January. This is because the levels of the virus in circulation in the community is too high to keep them open.

For information on the details of level 5 restrictions and the services that have been affected please see here.

Unfortunately, a number of health services have also been curtailed, however, it is important to know that general practice is still open so if you have any serious concerns about your health please contact your GP by phone.

" We do not want to miss possible strokes, heart conditions or possible cancers or other non-COVID-19 medical conditions,"

Dr Nuala O Connor , ICGP COVID-19 Clinical Lead

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) issued a statement earlier this week urging the public to stay at home to help protect GPs, practice teams and patients who need face-to-face consultations, and to phone GPs for advice if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

However, the College reassured patients that essential services including childhood vaccinations and assessing medically unwell patients will be maintained despite high level of COVID-19 in community.

The ICGP’s COVID-19 Clinical Lead Dr Nuala O’Connor said: “GPs are working in unprecedented conditions with this new surge in cases. Face-to-face consultations will continue but we are using telephone and video consultations where it is possible to deliver safe care.

“We are advising GPs to limit foot-fall to the practice while maintaining essential services such as childhood vaccinations and assessing medically unwell patients who need a face-to-face assessment.”

“In the first lockdown we know a lot of people with non-COVID-19 medical conditions felt they should not contact their GP. We wish to reiterate that our surgeries are open but working behind closed doors. People must phone their GPs first for an assessment and if a doctor feels they need to see you, we recommend you do come in. We do not want to miss possible strokes, heart conditions or possible cancers or other non-COVID-19 medical conditions. GPs are here to help with mental health conditions also.”

Despite the ongoing anxiety about COVID-19 there is some good news in that to date, two vaccines for the virus have been approved for use in the EU

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Despite the ongoing anxiety about COVID-19 there is some good news in that to date, two vaccines for the virus have been approved for use in the EU and the HSE has already begun the roll out of the first dose of the Pfizer Biontech vaccine with the second vaccine from the Moderna group due to be rolled out shortly. For more information on the vaccination programme please see here.

We are living in difficult and uncertain times and here at the Irish Heart Foundation we are very aware of the extra challenges people living with the effects of heart disease and stroke face.

For general health queries you can contact the Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line Our nurses are available on phone and email support Monday to Friday 9 am to 1pm pm. Call 01 6685001 or email support@irishheart.ie

We have also developed a range of resources to help people living with cardiovascular disease to stay well while staying at home. These include general information on the coronavirus, tips and advice on ways to keep active while staying at home and ideas on ways to eat well and mind your mental health. You can access all this information here.

We have also developed a number of new services to support people living with heart disease or stroke and their carers including a special support service for people living with heart failure.

We also run 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country.

We also have support groups for people with cardiomyopathy, Long QT syndrome and spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), as well as groups for people with ICDs and for families who have lost a loved one to SADS. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support.

We have developed a range of resources to help people living with cardiovascular disease to stay well while staying at home.

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We have a number of private Facebook groups to give you access to expert information and to allow you to share your thoughts and concerns with similarly affected people:

Heart Support Network – a Facebook group for people with heart failure and other heart conditions and their carers.

Life after Stroke – a Facebook group for stroke survivors and their carers.

Irish Heart Foundation Carers’ Group – this Facebook group is specifically for carers of stroke survivors.

We are accepting new members in all of our groups.  If you would like to join, please email Tracy on tegan@irishheart.ie telling her which group you would like to join or call 01 6685001.

Stay safe and remember you are not alone

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