Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Faculty of Medicine academic staff member Dr. Altuğ Çinçin wrote an article titled "Pandemic and Our Heart" on the occasion of the heart health days observed during the second week of April every year. Dr. Çinçin included the following statements in his article:
We have left behind a whole year in the Covid-19 pandemic, during which we lost a large number of people. Although the vaccination programs are continuing rapidly, the numbers both in our country and the world are unfortunately not good. Cardiovascular diseases, the most common cause of death before the pandemic, have become even more important during the pandemic period. While individuals with a known heart disease have a more difficult disease process, the medicine they have to use and their interactions with each other, fighting against complications that may arise after the first period of the disease are big enough problems, even the stress that occurs while trying to avoid Covid-19 creates serious difficulties for heart patients. Considering that the elderly people are the most affected group by the pandemic, the presence of heart disease becomes more important.
Although it is not a tangible organ, one of the most important and functional structures of the human body is a membrane called "endothelium" that covers the inner surface of all our vascular structures. Although the virus mostly affects the lungs, the inflammation it creates in this endothelial structure causes various complications in many cardiac patients. In this process, the risk of heart attack and pulmonary embolism increases significantly. It is known that rhythm and conduction disturbances can be obsered in the heart and heart failure may worsen. Decreased oxygen delivery due to problems in the lungs and the need for bed rest during the disease process are other important reasons for the poor prognosis in cardiac patients.
Although one of the most discussed issues since the early days of the pandemic has been the relationship between hypertension and hypertension drugs and the disease, sufficient evidence on the subject has not been obtained. Since there is no information in the current literature that any hypertension or heart medication may increase the risk of developing the disease or worsen its course, it is important that all cardiac patients, including those with hypertension, continue their treatment regularly.
If the elderly with heart disease encounter the virus, the risk of serious progress of the disease is higher than other individuals. Therefore, social isolation of the elderly, heart patients, those who receive cancer treatment or those who have diseases that may affect the immune system is extremely important. Exercise, weight control and good nutrition are our most important
weapons in the current pandemic process. If it is not possible to go outside due to the lack of suitable conditions, at least 30 minutes of exercise should be practiced without interruption, even indoors. Inevitably, the increase in the time we spend in our homes should not lead to an increase in the amount of food consumed, and carbohydrate-based nutrition should be avoided. Fruit and vegetable consumption should be increased and maximum attention should be paid to daily fluid consumption. Protection is important, but hesitating to apply to the hospital when a serious complaint such as chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling faint will cause more serious problems. For simple complaints or postponable routine controls, it is more rational to wait for periods when the pandemic slows down, if possible.
It is evident that in societies that start the vaccination program earlier and can make progress, serious success can be achieved in the rate of disease spread. It is extremely important that all heart patients in our country be vaccinated regardless of the type or duration of their disease. Since there is no evidence as to which vaccine is best suited for heart patients, they should be vaccinated without hesitation once any vaccine is available.
As we leave behind the heart health days, observed in the second week of April every year, we seek ways to protect our heart and from the virus. With the hope that we all have healthy days which we win the fight against the epidemic and our hearts are ticking with health.