Link between cardiovascular disease and severe coronavirus complications

Heart Risk Still
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The American Heart Association said elderly people with coronary heart disease or hypertension might be more likely to be infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and to develop more severe symptoms.

In a press release Monday, the association also said people who have survived a stroke may also face a higher risk of complications.

The release said data from China, published in February, indicates cardiovascular disease and hypertension were associated with an increased COVID-19 case fatality rate: 10.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Substantial cardiac damage was observed in patients who died from the virus.

In addition, the American Heart Association said elderly persons with heart disease or hypertension were more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms and complications.

Approximately 120 million people in the U.S. have cardiovascular disease, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk for infection will increase as the outbreak expands. Officials said people who have heart disease or another underlying condition should stay home to limit their risk of contracting the virus.

For high-risk patients, prevention is important. 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.

“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.”

As part of its global response to the growing pandemic, the American Heart Association is committing $2.5 million to research efforts to better understand COVID-19 and its interaction with the body’s cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems.