While everyone should be taking extra precautions to stay safe from COVID-19 right now, people with heart disease have even more reasons to be concerned.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 120 million people in the U.S. have one or more cardiovascular diseases, which put them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and experiencing complications of the virus.
"The case fatality rate is highest among patients with cardiovascular disease at 10.5 percent for those patients," said Dr. Mozow Zuidema, a cardiologist with Boone Hospital Center in Columbia and the Missouri Heart Center Vice Chair of Medicine. "It's 7 percent for patients with diabetes. It's 6 percent for patients with chronic respiratory disease, 6 percent for hypertension and almost 6 percent for cancer."
For patients over the age of 80, the case fatality is about 15 percent Zuidema added.
"There's still not yet data about why these specific patient populations do so much worse," Zuidema said. "But we do know that they are at increased risk of severe disease and death."
Zuidema urges people with heart disease to make sure they are managing their disease and medications so they don't wind up in the hospital. She encouraged these people to rely on telehealth medicine if possible.
"We don't want them to get infected if they do go to the hospital," she said. "But also we are trying to reduce the stress on the healthcare system."
Zuidema also encouraged healthy people to consider donating blood at this time.
"The American Red Cross is certainly suffering a blood shortage," she said. "The blood drives that used to occur in mass are not really occurring."How to donate blood in the Ozarks
Chris Pilgram, spokesman for the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, said local hospitals are fully stocked right now and the center has a three-day reserve of most types, but "this is going to be a very long month."
"Almost all of our mobile blood drives have been canceled for the month, representing around 3,000 lost donations," Pilgram said in an email. "We’re still looking for our donor centers to get the bulk of what we need. We are strongly encouraging appointments."
"Although things are pretty good right now, I can see a real shortage looming around the middle of the month," he said. "The US Surgeon General has said that giving blood is an activity that is considered essential. It is safe. We have added additional measures to ensure donor safety."
To make an appointment to give blood, visit www.cbco.org.