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COVID-19 and heart disease risks
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

COVID-19 and heart disease risks

Answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and heart disease.

Which heart conditions are at risk? 

At this early stage, research shows that people with heart disease infected with COVID-19 are at a higher risk of: 

  • experiencing severe illness 
  • being admitted to intensive care 
  • dying  

We are learning more about the impacts of COVID-19 for people with heart disease. Early reports and experience with other viruses suggest that COVID-19 could present a higher risk if you have:  

  • heart failure  
  • high blood pressure  
  • coronary heart disease (this may include people who have had a stent or surgery to treat coronary heart disease or a previous heart attack)  
  • heart valve disease  
  • abnormal heart rhythm 

It is important to know that this information may change as we learn more about the links between COVID-19 and specific heart conditions.   

How does COVID-19 affect the heart? 

COVID-19 mostly affects the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. The virus can also affect the heart and worsen existing heart conditions. How? Early reports show that COVID-19 can cause: 

  • damage to the heart muscle 
  • an abnormal heart rhythm 

Our knowledge of other viruses that affect the lungs shows that, when a virus targets the lungs, a person’s heart may need to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. This can worsen underlying heart conditions and may mean that the heart isn’t able to pump blood as well as it should.    

How can I act to reduce COVID-19 risk?

If you have a heart condition, you must practice good hygiene to avoid infection: 

  • wash your hands often with soap and water 
  • cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue 
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitisers 
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth 
  • practise physical distancing to limit close contact 

Look after your heart health: follow your current treatment plan and take your medication as prescribed.  

Get heart health information and support 

Get free, personalised information and support from the Heart Foundation Helpline. Translation and interpreter service is available.  

Call 13 11 12 or email health@heartfoundation.org.au 

For more information on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health website.  

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