A ‘Heart to Heart’ with Covid-19 | Sunday Observer

A ‘Heart to Heart’ with Covid-19

25 October, 2020

The Covid-19 virus exerts an unprecedented global impact socially and economically, bringing unique challenges to the healthcare sector. As per the World Health organisation, the virus has lead to around 1 million deaths with over 37 million confirmed cases worldwide. However, it poses a particular risk to those with underlying medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and Hypertension.

Cardiovascular illnesses

At the recent Webinar session – ‘Better Health: A Healthy Heart’ brought to you by Healthnet and English Nursing Sri Lanka: Consultant cardiologist Dr Bhathiya Ranasinghe said, “People with pre-existing heart disease who become ill with Covid-19 are at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or develop congestive heart failure. The combination of the severe viral illness and its increased strain on the heart, as fever causes rapid heart rate, followed by low oxygen levels increases chances for blood clot formation.”

Dr Ranasinghe also discussed the diagnosis of a more unusual condition called Myocarditis in Covid- 19 patients. “Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. This can affect the heart muscle and its electrical system, reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood and causes rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.”

The WHO records cardiovascular illnesses as the global leading cause of death. 10 percent of patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease who contract Covid-19 - high blood pressure (hypertension) and coronary artery disease (CAD) - have lower mortality rates, compared to only 1 percent of patients who are otherwise healthy. In 2018, 22. 64 percent of deaths in Sri Lanka were due to heart diseases, reiterating the fact that those with heart disease are subject to fatal complications if infected with Covid-19 and appropriate care is essential.

Care for your heart

A good exercise routine, even for elders, can strengthen heart muscles and improve the function of lungs. Taking multiple short walks during the day along with stretches and Yoga act as effective preventive measures.

Simultaneously, eating a healthy diet is important. Eating and drinking appropriately can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections as it plays a critical role to building a good immune system. Staying hydrated, including plenty of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet, reducing the intake of saturated fats and sugar are some factors. The intake of alcohol and tobacco have severe repercussions to the body as well, limitation plays a crucial role in protecting the heart from Covid-19.

Mind and heart

A person’s health is a combination of physical and mental well-being. Indulging in relaxing activities, such as reading or listening to music help reduce stress and exhaustion. Keeping in contact with your loved ones, via video conferencing or text is important to limit anxiety and fear during these difficult times. Remember, interaction and communication encourages a positive mind-set during uncertainty.

This World Heart Day the World Heart Federation added strengthening the heart through the presence of compassion and kindness. ‘Use Heart’ to build a community that unites against Covid- 19. To understand that a gentle gesture and an act of goodwill for those around us could go a long way.