Taking the Risks to Heart

December 07, 2020 Posted in: Heart & Vascular Care

COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the heart and lungs. 

Coronary artery disease, heart failure and high blood pressure are just a few of the long-term health conditions that increase your risk of serious complications due to COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 can lead to viral cardiomyopathy, which weakens the heart and reduces its ability to pump blood,” said Robert Salley, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at CHI Saint Joseph Health. “That can occur when a virus, such as the one that causes COVID-19, damages the heart’s cells.” 

People with lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also have a higher risk of infection from COVID-19, which can trigger the immune system to mount such a strong defense that it harms the lungs.

If you have a heart or lung condition, you can take several steps to stay safe. Follow best practices to stop the spread of the coronavirus, such as practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask in public and washing your hands frequently. Dr. Salley also recommends continuing to take all medications as prescribed and following up with your primary care provider and specialists so they can help you manage chronic health conditions. 

To watch a video featuring Dr. Salley discussing the risks COVID-19 poses to the heart and other organs, visit the CHI Saint Joseph Health YouTube channel’s Heart and Vascular playlist

A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.  

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