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Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Two stories at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic

Savannah and Gerry, two Australians living with heart disease share their COVID-19 stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact across Australia. While case numbers are low compared with overseas experience, we know that for people with heart disease, COVID-19 presents increased risks to their heart health. Early reports and experience with other viruses suggest COVID-19 could present a higher risk for people living with:   

  • 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 

 

Real stories from the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic 

Through unending COVID-19 news reports, we hear, read and see constant updates on infection numbers and, tragically, mortality rates. But, this constant stream of data can hide the human stories of this pandemic. 

At the time of posting, there are just over 600 active COVID-19 cases in Australia. While our success in containing the virus should be recognised, there also exists the tragic losses of life: 102 Australians have died after contracting COVID-19. 

The risk posed by the pandemic has been higher for some Australians than others, including people living with heart disease.  

Here, two Australians living with heart disease share their COVID-19 stories. 

Savannah 

Savannah has been managing heart disease since she was a teenager, but she knows COVID-19 may put her at an increased risk.  

Living with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (where an extra electrical pathway in the heart causes a rapid heartbeat), as well as atrial fibrillation (an irregular and rapid heartbeat that leads to poor blood flow), Savannah is particularly mindful of her heart health during this time. 

“I’m a teacher, so I am working from home and trying to stay home as much as possible,” she said. 

"But I make sure to get outside and exercise every single day, walking and enjoying the beautiful environment around me." 

“About six weeks ago I had a heart problem at work and had to go to hospital by ambulance. I have felt anxious about having to go to hospital because of coronavirus, but it’s important to listen to your body and take action if it is needed.” 

Gerry 

In 2017 Gerry Cappeluti survived his heart attack: that harrowing experience reinforced that during the COVID-19 crisis it is so important that he looks after his heart health. 

"As soon as we understood the situation with the Coronavirus, I knew I was at higher risk than most,” says Gerry, 55. 

In 2017, he had a heart attack; , and a major artery Gerry believes that the stent inserted during surgery after his heart attack saved his life. 

“You can’t just sit back and ignore the risk. I do everything I can to take care of myself at this time. I walk the dogs, Pepe and Rocky, in the park, do 20 minutes on the treadmill and eat healthy food. I had a flu shot. And, of course, follow the rules of social distancing.” 

 

Learn more about COVID-19 and heart disease 

Across Australia, people with heart disease have their own stories of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.  While  Australia is managing the pandemic well, it’s never been more important to know more about your heart health: you can learn about COVID-19 and heart disease by visiting our website

The upcoming flu season can also present a health risk for people living with heart disease; that’s why it’s important to visit your GP to get a flu vaccine. Learn more about the flu vax here

 

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