FAQ: Coronavirus and Cardiovascular Patients
Last updated April 23, 2020
What if I have a heart condition not related to COVID-19?
We are able to accommodate seeing our patients in person for urgent cardiovascular symptoms. Please contact the clinic, and we will make the appropriate arrangements. If you are having an emergency, call 911.
Since it appears that addressing this pandemic will be a marathon, not a sprint, it is important that we also do not forget to treat chronic health conditions and continue to work to prevent the development of health problems.
If you have a regularly scheduled appointment and there is still a stay-at-home order in place, it is very important that this be rescheduled as a video visit. For some conditions, it is recommended not to delay your care even during shelter-in-place. If your provider feels that you should come in for a test or an appointment, we have instituted many new policies and procedures to make this extremely safe and to preserve physical distancing. When we reach out, we will explain these procedures to you.
What can I do for my mental and emotional health?
Please take care of your mental and emotional health and try to make sure you are not socially isolated while you are physically distanced from others. If you need extra help to address severe stress or depression, please reach out. There are emotional health resources and stress reduction suggestions available on the California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website.
I've heard and read mixed information about various heart medications. What does my UCSF cardiology team think?
There is much information being shared on social media and other forums, not all of which is scientifically based. At UCSF Cardiology, we are learning from our colleagues and staying abreast of developments on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. Our professional societies are reacting in real time to developments and sharing consensus recommendations. Our physicians at UCSF are meeting daily to make consensus decisions on what is best for our patients based on available data and the experience of our colleagues. The consensus opinion of cardiologists around the country, based on the best available data, is that you should continue to take all prescribed medications for your heart condition, including heart/blood pressure medicines such as the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) classes of drugs that some of you may have been prescribed.
Who should be medically evaluated and tested for COVID-19?
If you develop fever or symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough or shortness of breath and you are in one of the following groups with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure or complicated infection, you should contact your health care provider for guidance on evaluation:
- Those who have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed or is under investigation for COVID-19
- Older individuals or those with a chronic medical condition
Can I be tested for COVID-19?
Testing for COVID-19 is available at UCSF only on a limited basis. You should first contact your primary care doctor or your county's public health department. Only if you are a UCSF patient, you may also call the UCSF coronavirus information line at (415) 514-7328.
Are there treatments for COVID-19?
Currently, most patients with COVID-19 will not require treatment. For the minority of patients who become more seriously ill, therapy is geared toward supporting the affected organ systems. Studies are underway at UCSF and elsewhere to test various medications to treat COVID-19. Work is in progress to develop a vaccine. UCSF is prepared to care for our patients who may become very ill from COVID-19.
What are everyday preventive actions I can take?
As a reminder, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
- Stay home as much as possible. When you do go out, practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home and do not travel or go to work/school when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you have to go out in public – for example, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Please do not wear a mask with a valve, as these masks allow droplet release and do not protect others who may be nearby.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stop smoking and vaping.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.