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American Heart Association advises caution to heart, stroke patients

The American Heart Association is advising caution and preparation for elderly people with coronary heart disease or hypertension because it appears they are more likely than others to be infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and to develop more severe symptoms. People who have survived a stroke may also face a higher risk of complications.

The Association recognizes the urgency and increased risk of contracting COVID-19 for the approximately 120 million people in the U.S. who have cardiovascular disease. Data from China, published last month, indicates cardiovascular disease and hypertension were associated with an increased COVID-19 case fatality rate: 10.5% and 6.0%, respectively. Among patients who died from COVID-19, substantial cardiac damage was observed. In addition, elderly persons with heart disease or hypertension were more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19.

The overall risk of getting this virus is still low in the United States, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk will increase as the outbreak expands. As a result, people who have heart disease or another underlying condition should stay home to limit their risk of contracting the virus.

For heart patients, prevention is key. Their risk is not higher for getting the coronavirus as a patient, but if they do get it they have a higher chance of complications.

Others facing this higher risk include people 60 and over, pregnant women, young children, people with serious chronic lung and kidney conditions, and people with compromised immune systems. As mentioned, stroke survivors may also have a higher risk of complications.

“Prevention is key in limiting the spread of coronavirus, and with more people working remotely or limiting their exposure to crowds, it’s important to maintain healthy habits at home, “said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Wash your hands often and stay home when you feel sick, but don’t disregard your physical activity and healthy eating habits. These are the foundation to maintaining and improving your health.”

The CDC recommended on March 15 some actions for patients and everyone else, including canceling or postponing most in-person events consisting of 50 people or more. The CDC also posted more guidance for schools as closures continue around the country.

The American Heart Association and its thousands of science volunteers are poised and ready to provide urgent support to ensure optimal care for patients with cardiovascular disease who contract COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to a new article published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation. The article details the Association’s necessary role and commitment to addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic.

For more COVID-19 resources, visit

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