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COVID-19 and heart health: Tips toward staying healthy

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

BRIDGEPORT, CT (Feb. 10, 2021) People with cardiovascular disease are more than twice as likely to contract severe forms of COVID-19 compared with the general population. However, there are steps that can be taken to protect the heart.

“There are a few reasons people with cardiovascular disease are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19,” said cardiologist Alon Ronen, MD, of the Heart and Vascular Center at Bridgeport Hospital. “Fever and infection can speed up the heart rate, increasing the work of the heart in COVID-19 patients. Someone whose heart already has some damage is more likely to be heavily impacted by factors like low oxygen and unstable blood pressure—all things that can happen with COVID-19.”

COVID-19 can also further damage a weakened heart by inflaming the heart muscle.

“Heart injury has been detected in about one-quarter of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19,” said Edward Tuohy, MD, interventional cardiologist of the Heart and Vascular Center Bridgeport Hospital. “While severe heart inflammation is rare, studies suggest that mild heart muscle inflammation might be present in more patients than are diagnosed.”

Among steps to help protect the heart from COVD-19 are maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeing a doctor when needed, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Exercising 30 minutes a day, eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding drugs and alcohol remain gold standard lifestyle habits for everyone to adopt,” said cardiologist Daniel Price, MD, of the Heart and Vascular Center at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Dr. Price also emphasizes not delaying care for heart attacks during the pandemic. “We can’t stress enough the importance of receiving care in a timely manner. We also recommend people get cleared by a cardiologist once they have recovered from COVID-19 if they plan to return to rigorous physical activity.”

2021 brings for many the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and one of the best tools we have to protect ourselves from COVID-19,” said Dr. Ronen, adding that anyone with a history of heart disease should consider getting vaccinated when it is their turn and discuss any concerns they might have with their doctor.

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.