Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has warned that patients with high blood pressure may be at greater risk of developing severe complications if they are infected with coronavirus (Covid-19) and therefore they must take more preventive measures to protect them.
Dr Mawahib Ali el-Hassan, Acting Director of the Coronary Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at HMC's Heart Hospital said: "We don't yet fully understand why people with poor cardiovascular health and high blood pressure seem to be at higher risk for more severe illness from this virus, but what we do know is that Covid-19 puts a strain on the lungs and this also burdens the heart. For this reason, it is extra important that anyone who has poor cardiovascular health takes extra precautions."
She said: "Covid-19 is a new coronavirus so we are still learning about its pathology, including how it attacks the body. Available data from China, where the virus originated, seems to indicate that individuals with cardiovascular disease and hypertension are among those who experienced worse outcomes. We strongly encourage people with these conditions to exercise a greater degree of prevention and protection."
Dr el-Hassan explains that high blood pressure means the heart must work harder to pump blood around the body. She says high blood pressure causes the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart to lose their elasticity and narrow, which places individuals with the condition at an increased risk for a heart attack. She says patients with high blood pressure should not panic but they should ensure they follow their doctor's instructions and take extra precautions to prevent contracting the virus.
"It's normal for people to feel concerned, especially if they have a pre-existing medical condition. My advice for any patients with high blood pressure is to follow prevention guidelines around personal hygiene and social distancing, which includes avoiding places where they might encounter crowds, like busy grocery stores. They should also continue to follow whatever direction they've been given by their doctor, including taking any prescribed medications. It is also really important for people to ensure they are getting information about Covid-19 from reliable sources, like the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO)," says Dr el-Hassan.
According to her defensive steps everyone can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus include avoiding people who are sick, thoroughly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands, and frequently cleaning surfaces touched often, like doorknobs, handles, steering wheels, and light switches.
The Ministry of Public Health has established a dedicated website to provide the public with updates on the current situation as well as information on how to protect themselves and others from coronavirus infection. A hotline (16000), which is available 24-hours a day to answer Covid-19 related queries, and an educational social media campaign have also been launched, with the MoPH, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) sharing infographics and videos through their social media channels.
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