As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we have learned that older adults and patients with heart disease are at higher risk for developing COVID-19 and potentially having further complications from the virus. For individuals with heart disease, this can raise a lot of questions, so OhioHealth cardiologist Kevin Stiver, MD, offers this advice.
How can I protect myself against COVID-19?
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you don’t have access to soap and water and your hands are not visibly soiled.
- Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
- Continue to practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when you’re out and about and keep at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to leave your house.
- Take all of your medications as they are prescribed to you.
What if I start to feel unwell? What should I do?
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that primarily affects the lungs. As the lungs are affected, the heart can be too. Although the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory viruses, such as a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, we are learning more that patients may develop heart symptoms first, such as chest pain and palpitations. If you develop breathing problems or heart problems, it’s important that you contact your doctors or seek medical attention immediately. We understand you might be concerned about coming to a hospital or urgent care during this time, which is why we created a plan to keep our patients and associates safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
We’re also headed into flu season. If you contract the flu, also a respiratory virus, it can put stress on your body, making your heart work harder. Our advice here: get the flu shot to protect yourself.
What if I have more questions that I would like to discuss with my cardiologist?
At OhioHealth, we’ve developed new ways for you to continue to see your doctor without having to leave the comforts of your home through telehealth appointments. Through these appointments, you’re able to set up a video chat with your cardiologist. If you have a smartphone or laptop with a camera and internet at your home, we can help you setup a video visit with your cardiologist that utilizes MyChart, a secure website and app to access your medical records.
If you don’t have a MyChart account set up, don’t worry! Our associates are here to help you get started. In addition to setting up a video conference, our associates can show you everything that MyChart has to offer, such as accessing your current list of medications, seeing upcoming appointments and sending messages to your provider!
Telehealth appointments are always helpful to connect a face with your voice, but it helps our physicians take better care of you by seeing you.
- Using the camera to look at specific parts of the body, like swelling in your legs.
- Reviewing your prescription bottles that you have at home.
- Ensuring you’re using your blood pressure cuff correctly, if you have one.
- Making it easier for family members to be involved in the conversation.
If you don’t have a smartphone or internet, we can still setup a phone call visit with you through any type of phone. Please contact your physician’s office for help setting up an appointment to speak with your cardiologist.
For many people, this may be your first time having a telehealth appointment. If you have questions about what it will be like talking to your physician over the phone or through a video chat, here’s what to expect from your telehealth appointment.
These are interesting and concerning times, but rest assured, your cardiologist and team are here to help in any way needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions or concerns!
Dr. Kevin Stiver is a board-certified interventional cardiologist who joined OhioHealth in 2016. His primary interests include complex coronary interventions and structural heart procedures. Dr. Stiver is also a physician informaticist and is an active member of digital and virtual health initiatives at OhioHealth. He is a physician builder for our electronic medical record and serves as a board member for the national Epic cardiology steering committee. Outside of work, he enjoys exercising and spending time with his three children, wife Corey, and dog Lucy.