Coronavirus: People with heart conditions most vulnerable to COVID-19, cardiologists say

The need for ventilators has dominated the conversation about coronavirus and much of the focus has been on people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD. But doctors say there's another group that might be even more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Nearly half of Americans have heart disease.

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Cardiologist Dr. Gregory Geisler, with Southern California Heart Specialists said these include hypertension, heart failure, coronary disease, stroke and abnormal heart rhythms to name a few.

That's about 122 million people who doctors say are more likely to succumb to COVID-19 if they should get it.

"Those patients who are at the highest risk for adverse events. Those are the patients with cardiovascular disease," Geisler said.

While there's a lot of talk about ventilators and breathing issues, COVID-19 can kill in other ways.

"What we are learning is the heart is involved with inflammation," he said. "It's not just the lungs, we are seeing it involved in the heart as well. When you have high blood pressure, it's more likely you can go into heart failure. You can have heart attacks."

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To save lives, Geisler and his staff members are focused on keeping their patients and their underlying conditions as stable and as safe as possible.
"In our office we have eliminated the waiting room completely so patients are immediately put into a room and seen," Geisler said. "We've also instituted telemedicine as well as phone conferencing."

It's important for patients to stay current on their medications, to eat heart smart and to exercise regularly.

"Care for yourself. Do the things that we are asking. Be proactive in your health care," Geisler said.

We all need to take care of ourselves and Geisler's advice is to look around your neighborhoods and help the ones who need it most.

"So when people who are at high risk need help getting food and supplies offer to help them in a safe way," he said.

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