FAQ – Facemasks, coronavirus and heart disease

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   27th May 2020

Here we explain facemasks and heart disease in the era of COVID-19

As we slowly emerge from lock-down the HSE has recommended that members of the public should wear facemasks or cloth face coverings in situations where physical distancing is difficult this includes shops, shopping centres and on public transport.

Q. What is a face covering?

A.  A cloth face covering is a piece of material that covers your nose and mouth and may help reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the community.

A cloth face covering should cover the nose and mouth and go under the chin and:

Q. Where can I get a facemask?

A. There are a number of organisations offering a range of facemasks for sale in some retail outlets and online however, you can also make your own. The HSE website has detailed instructions on how to make your own cloth face covering which you can see here.

Q. Do I have to wear a facemask?

The wearing of a facemask is now mandatory on public transport and, in shops and shopping centres. However, there are certain groups of people who should not wear them and these include:

It is important that we not criticise or judge people who are unable to wear a face covering.

Q. I suffer from heart failure and have difficulty breathing do I have to wear a facemask?

A. Some people with mild breathing problems will be able to wear a facemask but if you find it harder to breath with the mask on, then don’t use one.  Wearing a facemask is not mandatory therefore if you have severe breathing difficulties don’t wear one. If your breathing difficulties are a new symptom or if they worsen please seek medical advice. If you have chronic and significant breathing difficulties and especially if you are over 70 years of age, you should still cocoon, and when you go outside avoid contact with other people, don’t go into shops and if you arrange to meet a friend ensure its outside and you can maintain adequate physical distancing.

Q. Is it safe to wear a facemask if you have a heart condition?

A. If you don’t have significant breathing difficulties you should wear a facemask if going into a shop on public transport or in situations where it’s harder to maintain physical distancing.

 Wearing a facemask is not mandatory therefore if you have severe breathing difficulties don’t wear one.


Q. How do I use a cloth face covering?

A. It is important to note that using a face covering does not negate the need to also practice social distancing as much as you can depending on the space and to wash your hands regularly.



Taking a cloth face covering off

To take a face covering off properly:

Q. What is the difference between a medical mask and a cloth face covering?

A. Medical masks are for healthcare workers. Some workers in specific jobs also use them. They are vital supplies and are not intended for use by the public in the community. As they are a precious healthcare resource it is important that we try and make sure that medical face masks are kept for health care workers therefore it is advisable that people wear cloth face coverings instead.

Q. How do I wash my face covering?

A. Face coverings should be washed daily at temperatures over 60 degrees with detergent. If using a washing machine, you should be able to wash and machine dry it without damaging it or changing its shape. You do not need to sterilise cloth face coverings. Wash it in a washing machine or by hand as you would any other item of clothing.

When to throw it out

You should throw out a cloth face covering when it:

For more information please see the HSE website.

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

The Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with the HSE National Stroke Programme, has launched a new telephone support service for stroke patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. For more information, see here.

Please support our work

If found this article hlpful and would like to donate to the Irish Heart Foundation please see here.


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Related Topics

breathing difficulties cocoon coronavirus Covid-19 face coverings facemasks heart disease heart failure social distancing

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