Among those most impacted by COVID-19 are individuals living with heart disease or with specific heart conditions such as heart valve disease.
“People with underlying heart disease or with certain heart conditions such as heart valve disease are among the most impacted by the coronavirus because of factors outside of their control, but also due to some things under their control,” says Croí CEO Neil Johnson, who has joined a global call for heart valve disease patients and their carers to take as much control as possible of their heart health during this global pandemic.
The global COVID-19 crisis has put an enormous strain on health systems which face the battle of limiting the spread of coronavirus, while at the same time providing the treatment and care that will save lives. As a result of this, healthcare systems across the world are having to change the way they work and how they prioritise, impacting patients presenting with many conditions, including heart valve disease.
The Global Heart Hub, an umbrella organisation for heart patient organisations, is advising those living with heart valve disease and other heart problems that while there may be disruption and delays to appointments and treatments, urgent treatment for conditions such as heart valve disease still needs to be undertaken.
“Many of the indicators that suggest a patient requires early or urgent intervention are symptom driven, so it is crucial that patients monitor their symptoms and report any deterioration to their nurse, doctor or heart specialist,” says Wil Woan, chair of the Global Heart Hub Heart Valve Disease Patient Council. The Global Heart Hub’s Heart Valve Disease Patient Council, of which Croí is an affiliate, has resources to help patients track their symptoms and he is encouraging patients and their carers to use them (www.globalhearthub.org).
Referring to factors under a patients control, Croí has added its voice to the global call in response to the concerning trend of some heart patients with severe symptoms or severe disease avoiding hospitals, not attending appointments or not contacting the emergency services on time for fear of contracting COVID-19. Croí’s Neil Johnson says: “By not seeking or receiving urgent treatment, these patients may be putting their lives at greater risk. We urge these patients to monitor their symptoms closely and report any deterioration. We are aware that this is a worrying period for patients across the world whose concerns about COVID-19 and potential isolation from loved ones is hampering their willingness to seek appropriate medical advice and treatment.”
Locally, Croí, a founding member of the Global Heart Hub, is providing support to patients and their carers through this challenging time. The Croí health team is available by phone Monday to Friday to provide information and support to those living with heart disease, stroke and obesity.
The Global Heart Hub is the umbrella organisation for heart patient organisations across the world and one of its core objectives is to create partnerships, share information and to leverage the power of the patient voice to deliver the best outcomes for all patients across the world. In the case of heart valve disease, where severe disease requires treatment, the Global Heart Hub is calling on healthcare systems and physicians to ensure that those who need urgent treatment still receive it, even in these challenging times.
“It is important that, together, we make clear that when the COVID-19 crisis relents, heart valve disease patients around the world will need and should receive treatment. Cancelled or delayed heart valve surgeries or interventions will need to be prioritised because we know that early intervention is optimal in returning patients to a good quality of life,” Woan, Global Heart Hub.
Click below to download the new heart valve disease Symptom Tracker resource.