Severe heart failure must be moved up Covid vaccination list

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   18th Mar 2021

Parents living with severe heart failure afraid to hug their own children

 

THE Irish Heart Foundation is calling for everyone under 70 with severe heart failure to be moved up the COVID-19 vaccination priority list.

Currently all patients with heart failure under the age of 70 are in level seven of the vaccination priority list despite the fact that research has shown that those with severe heart failure are at increased risk of dying if they contract COVID-19.

A new study from the Netherlands has shown that irrespective of age or gender, COVID-19 patients with severe heart failure who are admitted to hospital, are 37 per cent more likely to die compared to other hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

Furthermore, a UK study found that the 30-day mortality rate of patients with acute heart failure almost doubled during the pandemic and HSE data to mid-December showed that chronic heart disease was the most common underlying condition in those who died from COVID-19.

Younger people living with severe heart failure are not categorised as very high risk under the national immunisation programme and the HSE’s National Heart Programme has also called for under 70s, along with in-patients awaiting cardiac surgery, to be moved up the vaccine priority list.

" I have had three heart attacks, gone into cardiac arrest, been in ICU, on a ventilator, I don’t need to go back there with Covid."

Pauline O’Shea, who was diagnosed with heart failure at 38

The Irish Heart Foundation is making this call as it has heard from heart failure patients who have stopped hugging their own children when they return from school because they are terrified of contracting COVID-19.

Some have also told the Irish Heart Foundation that they instruct their children to change out of their uniforms before entering the family home.

Pauline O’Shea, who was diagnosed with heart failure at 38, said she and many other similar patients across Ireland were warned of the grave risk COVID-19 poses to those with heart and respiratory issues, yet they remain at level seven, rather than level four as proposed by leading cardiologists.

“Before my nine-year-old daughter returned to school this week, she wrote in her homework: ‘my mum has a heart condition and I’m worried I’ll give her Covid’,” she said.

“This week alone, my children are in three different classrooms with anywhere from 10-30 children in each; that means I am indirectly exposed to up to 70 people; children, teens and young adults, any of whom might be carrying Covid 19. I have had three heart attacks, gone into cardiac arrest, been in ICU, on a ventilator, I don’t need to go back there with Covid.

“I know another heart patient with two younger children who change out of their school uniforms before she can safely give them a hug. It’s very tough, but her condition is so serious that she can’t risk getting Covid-19 because she knows it could rob those children of their mother.”

“ Studies emerging on the impact of Covid on heart failure patients in particular are extremely worrying, and require us to do more for those at higher risk than is currently reflected on the vaccine priority list,"

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, The Irish Heart Foundation

Pauline, 47, who lives in Ardnacrusha in Co Clare, had open heart surgery in 2012 after developing Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), a tearing of the wall of the artery.

She insisted that high risk patients with other serious conditions fully deserve their priority place on the vaccine list but that heart failure patients under 70 need to be there too.

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist said there was broad consensus among cardiologists and the HSE’s own National Heart Programme that younger heart failure patients and those awaiting cardiac surgery who are at very high risk from Covid are vaccinated without delay.

“Studies emerging on the impact of Covid on heart failure patients in particular are extremely worrying and require us to do more for those at higher risk than is currently reflected on the vaccine priority list. Every opportunity must be taken to give them maximum protection from the virus,” she said.

“We know that the National Heart Programme has challenged the prioritisation of heart failure patients and inpatients awaiting surgery. We are now calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to order an urgent review of the priority level for these patients to ensure lives are not put at unnecessary risk.”

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Covid-19 COVID-19 vaccination heart disease heart failure severe heart failure vaccination

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