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What heart patients should know about Coronavirus

By American Heart Association News

The coronavirus should have everyone's attention
by now, health experts say. And people with heart disease have extra reasons to be alert.

For people with underlying heart issues, the concerns are serious. It appears elderly persons with coronary heart disease or hypertension are more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms. In February, The American College of Cardiology issued a bulletin to warn patients about the potential increased risk and to encourage "additional, reasonable precautions."

Based on early reports, by now, health experts say. 40% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease (which refers to blood flow in the brain, such as stroke), according to the bulletin. Different areas of the country are seeing different levels of virus activity, and the CDC is advising those most at risk to stay home whenever

The virus could affect heart disease patients in several ways, said Orly Vardeny, associate professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota. 

The virus's main target is the lungs. But that could affect the heart, especially a diseased heart, which has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body, said Vardeny, an adviser on the ACC bulletin. "In general, you can think of it as something that is taxing the system as a whole."

That could exacerbate problems for someone with heart failure, where the heart is already having problems pumping efficiently.

Someone with an underlying heart issue also
might have a less robust immune system.
People's immune systems weaken as they age, Vardeny said. And "in those with chronic medical conditions, the body's immune response is not as strong a response when exposed to viruses.

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