Perfect storm for heart disease created by COVID-19

29 September 2020 | Story Linda Rhoda.

EMBARGOED: 29 September 2020, 3:00 pm CET

Issued on behalf of the World Heart Federation

COVID-19 is creating a perfect storm for heart health, the World Heart Federation (WHF) warns on World Heart Day. Three main factors are contributing to this. First, people with COVID-19 and heart disease are among those with the highest risk of death and severe complications. Second, the heart might be adversely affected by the virus even in people without pre-existing conditions. Finally, fear of the virus has led to a sharp decline in hospital visits by heart patients for routine and emergency care. 

WHF’s purpose is to unite the global health community to beat cardiovascular disease (CVD), which kills an estimated 17 million people every year. WHF is asking all to “use heart” to make better choices for society, our loved ones and ourselves. 

Professor Karen Sliwa, WHF President, said: “In these trying times, it is paramount that we pay special attention to those who are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 and better understand how the virus is affecting the hearts of otherwise healthy people. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm, in which those people with CVD fare poorly, and those at risk don’t seek the treatment that they need to keep their hearts healthy. The heart and the entire vascular system are in danger and we need to act now. Today we have a unique opportunity to unite, to mobilise our skills and to use our heart to act.”

CVD has many causes: from smoking to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and air pollution. To combat these, WHF is calling not only for individual behaviour change but for a societal one. With equity at the centre of WHF’s work, it is vital to make access to healthcare, healthy foods and a healthy way of life accessible and affordable to all people. Regulating unhealthy products, while creating healthy environments are examples of such solutions for governments and communities. Given the current situation, WHF is also calling for recognition and urgent protection of frontline healthcare providers.   

WHF has launched a global study on cardiovascular disease and COVID-19 to better understand outcomes and risk factors in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. 

It is also launching a series of debates focused on how to unlock behavioural and societal change to beat CVD. Join the first discussion on September 29 at 3:00PM CET.

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