COVID-19 outbreak

Latest updates on the coronavirus and heart disease

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Recommendations for the CVD community in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

On 31 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus, now called COVID-19, a global public health emergency. While public officials and healthcare professionals strive to treat and mitigate the impact of the virus, global health organizations are using their platforms to convey accurate information about the crisis. The World Heart Federation (WHF), as a knowledge-sharing organization, is committed to facilitating access to the latest evidence of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuring everyone is aware of the necessary measures to protect themselves and others.

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China in December 2019. Common symptoms of the infection can include sore throat, cough, and fever. The virus can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome or breathing difficulties and, in more severe cases, be fatal. Research suggests than individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are more vulnerable to the worst outcomes of the virus.

A study published in The Lancet that analyzed 99 patients with COVID-19 found out that around half of the people infected had chronic underlying diseases. Specifically, 40 patients had a weak heart or damaged blood vessels due to conditions including heart disease, heart failure and stroke, and further 12 patients had diabetes. A more recent JAMA report on 138 hospitalized COVID-19 patients stated that 19.6% of patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. Rates of complications were higher for ICU patients: according to the publication, “the patients admitted to the ICU were older and had a greater number of comorbid conditions than those not admitted to the ICU. This suggests that age and comorbidity may be risk factors for poor outcomes.”

The American College of Cardiology has released a clinical bulletin addressing the cardiac implications of COVID-19. In particular, the update notes that “in geographies with active COVID-19 transmission (mainly China), it is reasonable to advise patients with underlying cardiovascular disease of the potential increased risk and to encourage additional, reasonable precautions.”

To adequately address this crisis, front-line healthcare personnel should stay up to date on the latest information about signs and symptoms, as well as learn the essential precautions to protect themselves and others.WHO has compiled a series of instructions for prevention and control when infection with COVID-19 is suspected. WHF strongly recommends following these guidelines to minimize exposure to the virus and protect the lives of healthcare workers and patients. To download the guidelines, please click here

For further information, we recommend you monitor the updates of the World Health Organization.

For enquiries, please contact communications@worldheart.org