According to a new Heart & Stroke survey released late last week, in the first few months of the pandemic, those living with heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment, a significant number of people experiences changing or worsening symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on people in more ways than one — this time, with those living with heart disease.
According to a new Heart & Stroke survey of 1,200 Canadians released late last week, in the first few months of the pandemic, those living with heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment, a significant number of people experiences changing or worsening symptoms — and contracting COVID was a major concern.
The results, researchers say, show the vulnerability this particulara population feels during the pandemic, with more than half concerned for their physical and emotional health (with a big number reporting mental health issues and feelings of isolation).
This tough time was experienced by Erinsville, Ont. couple Sherry, 61, and Jim Beattie, 65, who both have cardiac conditions.
The two are aware of how people with heart disease are at an increased risk of complications if they contract COVID-19 — and an even a greater risk of dying.
On March 10, Jim had a triple bypass while Sherry’s non-emergency cardiacs ablation was postponed due to hospital restrictions.
“Leaving the hospital after the procedure, just as the pandemic took hold was an overwhelming and even frightening experience,” said Jim, a retired teacher and volunteer fire chief. “Once home, I was lucky to have my wife, an excellent caregiver, but it was still a stressful time.”
“We were concerned for both of us because we know we’re both at high risk,” Sherry said.
According to the Heart & Stroke, three in four people living with a condition were worried about catching the virus, while three in four caregivers were worried about catching COVID themselves.
One in seven people living with a condition reported that their symptoms were changing or getting worse. The number was higher for caregivers — 26 per cent said they observed changing or worsening symptoms for those they cared fore.
And almost two-third with conditions were concerned about having to go to the hospital if they required medical attention.
Two in five people with a condition reported being isolated as a result of physical distancing, while two in five caregivers also felt isolated.
Experts also say that the pandemic provide the opportunity to fast track virtual care, which offers opportunities to facilitate care for people living with chronic conditions.