I am
New MJA statement: People with heart disease at higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

New MJA statement: People with heart disease at higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications

Media Release - 5 April 2020

Australians with heart disease have a higher chance of severe illness, needing intensive care or dying if infected by COVID-19, according to a new consensus statement published by the Medical Journal of Australia.

COVID-19 infection may also worsen existing heart conditions, such as heart failure, and could increase your risk of a heart attack.

The statement coincides with the launch today of a new national Heart Foundation campaign to inform Australians affected by heart disease about their increased risk of complications from COVID-19.

In addition to good hygiene and social distancing, the campaign advises people to maintain their current treatment and medication plan; get the flu vaccine; stay physically active and eat healthily; and seek medical help if their heart condition becomes severe or worsens quickly.

The consensus statement is the first of its kind to be released in Australia. It was developed by cardiac experts from all over Australia and New Zealand, including the Heart Foundation’s Chief Medical Advisor and cardiologist, Professor Garry Jennings.

“The reasons for the link between heart disease and COVID-19 are still being investigated and are likely to be complex,” Professor Jennings said.

“The consensus statement sought to spell out what is known so far about COVID-19 and heart disease, and the best ways to treat affected patients,” he said.

One thing we know for sure at this point is that people with heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to the serious complications of COVID-19 compared to the general population.

“We know from experience that when a virus targets the lungs, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the body. This can exacerbate problems in people who already have a heart condition, like heart failure. Viral infections can also increase a person’s risk of a heart attack.”

The virus may also trigger cardiac complications in people without heart disease, Professor Jennings said. “COVID-19 is largely a respiratory illness, but patients who are infected with COVID-19 may also experience damage to the heart,” he said.

“Information about the effects of COVID-19 on the heart is rapidly changing, but international reports indicate that COVID-19 may result in heart problems like injury to the heart muscle and abnormal heart rhythms.

People are understandably concerned about COVID-19. The Heart Foundation is committed to providing trusted, credible information and advice on heart health. For more information, visit the Heart Foundation web site or call our Helpline on 13 11 12.

The consensus statement published by the Medical Journal of Australia is endorsed by the Heart Foundation, Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia.

It covers direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19 for people with heart disease and the professionals who look after them, as well as measures health services can take to safely provide cardiac care to people who need it. 

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Research Directory

Research Directory

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Seafood recipes

Find heart healthy seafood recipes...

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

Strawberry fields oats

10 minutes
Serves 2

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Discover our Annual reports from 2013 onwards. ...

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Roast vegetable pasta

Roast vegetable pasta

30 minutes
Serves 6 (as a side)

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Research connect newsletter

Research connect newsletter

Research connect newsletter

The Research Connect Newsletter provides monthly updates on the Heart Foundation Research Program....

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Clinical information and links to SCAD resources....

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Cardiac rehabilitation was a turning point for Kylie and essential to her heart failure recovery....

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Create your fundraiser at Do it for Heart

Become a Heart Foundation fundraiser, do it for heart and make a real difference to your community....

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

This webinar discusses the role of practice nurses in conducting heart health checks...

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

1 hour
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

Mushroom, feta and thyme omelette

Mushroom, feta and thyme omelette

10 minutes
Serves 1

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network is the Heart Foundation’s newsletter for health professionals delivered to your inbox once a month....

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Heart health submissions to Government

Heart health submissions to Government

Every day we are lobbying government and industry to improve heart health....

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....