The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads rapidly from person to person. According to the American Heart Association, “Based on current information, it appears elderly people with coronary heart disease or hypertension are more likely to be infected and to develop more severe symptoms. Stroke survivors may also face increased risk for complications if they get COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising that those most at risk to stay home, avoid large crowds, and avoid contact with others. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this precaution should apply to everyone, not just those most at risk.
Although the virus targets the lungs, there is mounting evidence that it may also cause damage to cardiac tissue in some people. In a recent article published by Scientific American, “As more data comes in from China and Italy, as well as Washington state and New York, more cardiac experts are coming to believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle. An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heart-damage-incovid-patients-puzzles-doctors/)
As LVAD recipients and the caregivers of LVAD recipients, we understand that these times may be even more stressful than usual. Here are a few tips that will, hopefully, help you cope with the uncertainties surrounding this pandemic that none of us were prepared for just a few months ago:
- Eat well, regularly and healthily. Good food provides the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals which help combat anxiety. Colorful veggies, whole grains, and fruits should be added to your diet. Be careful with green leafy vegetables to avoid INR issues!
- Drink plenty of water. This speaks for itself!
- Use virtual methods of socializing. Social distancing is the new, not so fun, term for 2020. Don’t let it get the best of you. Communicate with your loved ones through video-chat features like Facetime, Skype, Zoom and Google Duo. It will keep you in the ‘know’ of how others are doing and help reduce your own stresses.
- Get creative! Start on those projects you had planned around the house that you never quite got to. This will provide a creative outlet, channeling all worries into a positive activity. Plant flowers in your backyard, read a book, paint an accent wall—anything that you’ve been wanting to do but often haven’t had the time to do.
- Avoid excessive negative messaging. Yes, we know we need to stay current with updates, however, too much negative information will only increase your anxiety. Try to watch the coverage on the coronavirus in moderation—one hour per day.