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Cardiologist stresses importance of heart health amid COVID-19 pandemic

Hy-Vee Inc. will offer free Heart Health Screenings throughout the month of September. (Photo Downloaded: MGN Credit:MGN)
Hy-Vee Inc. will offer free Heart Health Screenings throughout the month of September. (Photo Downloaded: MGN Credit:MGN)(KWQC)
Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 3:30 PM EDT
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Cardiovascular disease is a very common cause of death in the United States. Those with underlying heart conditions, such as a cardiovascular illness, are more at risk of having complications if they are infected with COVID-19.

While the majority of attention around COVID-19 has been associated with lung issues and respiratory failure, doctors say there are also cardiovascular issues the infection can cause or worsen.

Doctors say those issues include blood clots, irregular heart rhythms and weakened heart muscles.

Augusta Health reports that congestive heart failure, due to a weakened heart muscle as a result of COVID-19, can occur in one to four patients. About one in six patients experience hypertension and cardiovascular disease with a COVID-19 infection.

That's why doctors say prevention is key for these patients, meaning staying physically isolated and maintaining proper hygiene.

Dr. Dave Varma, a cardiologist at Augusta Health, said he has noticed that many patients are delaying seeking care for heart health because they may be scared of becoming infected with COVID-19 if they go to a hospital.

"We really want to emphasize that seeking medical care is an important thing. Heart attacks kill in the first few hours from occurring. So, if you have a prolonged episode of chest pains, shortness of breath, heart pain... Coming to the emergency room is very important," Dr. Varma said. "There actually have been more cardiac arrests at home in New York, and many of those patients didn't seek medical attention until late."

Augusta Health says consulting with your doctor is especially important during the pandemic. You can also get telehealth services by calling the Augusta Health Cardiology office at (540)245-7080.

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