Steps cardiac patients can take to avoid emergency rooms amid COVID-19 pandemic

One of the high risk factors for ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 is having heart disease, so people who have a history of cardiac problems need to take extra precautions at the moment.

A Mayo Clinic cardiologist says it’s all about prevention.

It’s more than just social distancing and staying home - it’s about taking care of yourself and paying extra attention to your meds and your body.

With the number COVID-19 cases on the rise, the last place anyone with a pre-existing condition wants to end up is at the emergency room, which is why if you are on heart medications such as statins, beta blockers, or blood pressure pills, you’ll want to keep taking them.

“If you stop, a couple of things can happen. One is that you can increase your risk for your blood pressure going up or your heart failure getting worse, which would the lead to your risk of having to go to the emergency room, which you don’t want to have happen now,” said Dr. Stephen Kopecky.

Dr. Kopecky says in addition to keeping up with your meds, you also want to pay attention to your weight. He says heart patients should weigh themselves every day.

“We know from prior studies that patients have their weight start to go up, and after about 10 days they have to go seek care. But, you can see the weight go up much earlier - a week earlier, you’ll see weight go up and you can do something about it to prevent this need to go in for further care.”

Then, there’s also exercise. Dr. Kopecky says 10,000 steps a day may be a bit challenging at the moment, but there are other things to keep your heart active.

“You can do it also with body weights, sit-ups, pull-ups - anything like that,” he said. “You don’t need any fancy equipment - a couple of bags of sand or sugar or flour. Just do some repetition to fatigue.”

Stress is also a huge factor, so the doctor says it’s good to continue social interactions and other things that make us happy. He says we should be using FaceTime or Skype with our parents as much as possible so that we can see how they are doing. A lot how we communicate is non-verbal, and a video chat can help you see how mom and dad are doing.