Advice for people living with cardiovascular disease

By June Shannon 30th Mar 2020

Updated Monday 30th March 2020

What is coronavirus and how does it spread?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means that it can affect your lungs and airways. To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) it’s important to think about how the virus is spread.

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are cough, fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more) or chills, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, sore throat, and aches and pains.

The HSE has an excellent website which includes general information and advice on the coronavirus and how to protect yourself and others. You can access it here.

Stay at Home

Following recent government advice we all have to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. This coupled with regular hand washing, practicing good cough etiquette are the best ways we can all play our part in the national effort against this disease.

You should only leave your home to:

Cocooning

The Government has also stated that certain groups of people who are extremely vulnerable must “cocoon”. This means that they must stay at home at all times. You can read more about cocooning from the HSE here

The following groups of people must “cocoon” for their own safety.

Cocooning is for your personal protection. If you are unsure whether or not you fall into one of the categories of extremely medically vulnerable people listed above, please talk to your doctor.

People with cardiovascular disease

People with cardiovascular disease, those aged 60 and over (people over 75 are particularly vulnerable) and people who have a weak immune system are among the groups of people who are at more risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus. However it is not thought that these groups have a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Extra care people in at-risk groups should take

The advice now for everyone is to stay at home. In general unless you are in the group that has been advised to cocoon, people can still go out to shop, but the HSE advises that people in at-risk groups should not do this. You should ask others to shop for you if you are in an at-risk group. They can leave supplies at your door. Do not invite them in.

People in at-risk groups do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms of coronavirus.

However some vulnerable people are taking this precaution. Everyone with symptoms needs to self-isolate.

If you are in an at-risk group or caring for someone in an at-risk group, you should follow the general advice on how to protect yourself from coronavirus.

Keeping well

Medicines

It’s important that if you are in an at-risk group or have coronavirus, you continue to take any medication you were already taking, unless you are told not to by a healthcare professional. This includes anti-inflammatories (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac or any blood pressure or heart failure medication.  If you have any concern about your medication it’s important you discuss these with your doctor before changing anything.

What to do if you develop symptoms of coronavirus

If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are cough, fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more) or chills, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, sore throat, and aches and pains.

You should call your GP to be assessed for a test if you have a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above) or chills and one of the following symptoms:

Getting a test for Coronavirus

If you think you need to be tested for coronavirus, phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone.

If they think that you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you.

People in at-risk groups with symptoms of coronavirus will be prioritised for testing

If you do not have a GP, any GP can arrange a test for you.

Do not ring GP out-of-hours services. They cannot arrange testing.

This situation is evolving daily, and the advice may change. Please see the HSE website for further up-to-date information.

We are here for you

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.

The Irish Heart Foundation has developed a number of services to support you at these difficult times.

Telephone and email support

Our nurses are available on phone and email support Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Call 01 6685001 or email support@irishheart.ie

Further useful sources of information:

HSE

World Health Organization

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Health Protection Surveillance Centre

For global travel information please see the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website or download the Department’s Travelwise app 

Please note the information on this page is for general guidance and comes from national and international guidance. It is not intended to replace the individual support of a medical professional.

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