Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups across the world. Cardiovascular diseases are defined as a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other cardiac conditions. To keep your heart healthy, it is highly recommended to eat healthy diets, be physically active, stay at a healthy weight while controlling cholesterol and blood pressure within normal ranges. More importantly, routine heart check-ups play a vital role in early detection of potential risk factors of cardiovascular diseases before the conditions progress. As healthy heart is central to overall good health, embracing a healthy lifestyle can significantly prevent heart diseases and lower the risk of other relevant conditions, allowing better well-being and longer life.
According to the World Heart Federation serving as the principal representative body for the cardiovascular community, harnessing the power of digital health to improve awareness, prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases globally is the ultimate goal for Word Heart Day 2021. For achieving this goal particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine has played an important role under the slogan “use heart to connect” in order to remain healthy and beat cardiovascular diseases in the digital world.
Cardiovascular diseases and COVID-19
A growing number of studies suggest that COVID-19 can cause both short- and long-term effects on the cardiovascular system. For short-term effect, some COVID-19 patients experience myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium). However, the symptoms are usually mild without serious complications. In patients presenting with severe symptoms, such as respiratory failure and pneumonia, they often have certain pre-existing health conditions those extensively intensify the risk for severe forms of COVID-19. After acute phase of COVID-19, patients might develop post-COVID symptoms, e.g. palpitation with fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart, weakness or fatigue and high blood sugar levels as the result of heart, lung and brain damages.
Strongly advised by the standard guidelines, patients with cardiovascular diseases should be instantly vaccinated once their symptoms are well-managed. After vaccination, the immune system is activated to produce immunity to protect the body against infections while minimizing disease severity if infected. A number of clinical studies conducted in the United States reveal that unvaccinated people were nearly eight times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than vaccinated people. Moreover, compared to vaccinated ones, unvaccinated people were 25 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. In terms of mortality, unvaccinated people died from COVID-19 at 20 times the rate among fully vaccinated people.
Nonetheless, due to recent reports associated with some adverse reactions caused by COVID-19 vaccines, some people have indicated their vaccination hesitancy to delay in acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines despite their benefits. Considered a game changer, COVID-19 vaccines have been claimed to be effective particularly in patients who have heart diseases and other co-morbidities. Similar to other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can produce a wide range of undesired effects, extending from mild to severe reactions including myocarditis. However, post-vaccination myocarditis is usually self-limiting and subsided within 1-3 weeks.
Use heart to connect your heart care
Adhering to the international standard of care and safety precaution, at Bangkok Heart Hospital, treatments and services are provided by highly specialized multidisciplinary teams supported by cutting-edge technology, ensuring the highest degree of effectiveness and safety. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our comprehensive cardiac care has focalized on following issues:
- Safety precaution and hygiene: Hygienic emphasis is placed upon the cleanliness across the hospital, e.g. service counters, operating rooms, examination rooms, medical equipment and devices as well as waiting areas and high-touch surfaces. More importantly, our medical staff are compulsorily required to get a regular COVID-19 testing in order to maximize the safety degree while providing care and services. Before entering the hospital, preventive screening includes temperature measurement and personal history taking concerning the risk of COVID-19 exposure. If patients pose risks of COVID-19 infection or present with abnormal signs or symptoms potentially indicating COVID-19, services and care will be separately provided in designated areas to prevent possible transmission to others.
- 24-hour readiness in cardiac surgery: Under certain restrictions, patients who need to undergo cardiac surgeries (both emergency and elective surgeries) must strictly follow all recommendations and preoperative and postoperative instructions advised by their cardiothoracic surgeons, enabling the most effective surgical outcomes with the highest safety degree. In case that cardiac surgery is indicated, patients and their caretakers are mandatorily required to screen for SARS‑CoV‑2 and their results should be negative (non-detected) within 72 hours prior to cardiac surgery. Nonetheless, for critical cases who need to undergo emergency cardiac surgery in which waiting for testing result of SARS‑CoV‑2 is not applicable or patients who are confirmed with COVID-19, cardiac surgery can be performed under strict universal respiratory and transmission-based precautions.
- Health delivery at your doorstep: Bangkok Hospital Delivery Services as a convenient care well delivered to your doorstep offer a wide range of medical services, including teleconsultation services using VDO conference calls and drug delivery service. In addition, in-home blood collection and vaccination services are also available within Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan.
Use heart to connect every heart
Taking good care of your heart and your loved ones is the key to live healthier and longer. A healthy heart as the fundamental of a better quality of life allows us to function at our best. In the ongoing battle against cardiovascular diseases, awareness in early detection plays a crucial role in preventing disease progression while reducing mortality rates. Owning to digital transformation which is emerging in health care at an increasingly rapid pace, the current COVID-19 crisis has bolstered the need for technology to provide integrated care solutions. To leverage digital health for improving health care services, Bangkok Heart Hospital has deployed digital technologies to facilitate the access to our holistic care, taking both patient’s physical and emotional aspects into consideration. Our three pivotal focuses to deliver comprehensive heart care are as follows:1. Equity of access: Digital technologies have been developed aiming at improving healthcare access to everyone anytime, anywhere. Bangkok Heart Hospital has designed and implemented digital solutions to meet the needs of patients and enhance service access. Digital health tools used for patient’s consultation, prevention, education and treatment monitoring include official website of Bangkok Heart Hospital, LINE Official Account (Line Official Heart Care), My B+ application and online Telemedicine consultation.
2. Prevention: Daily heart-healthy habits to keep the heart strong are:
- Consume appropriate amount of healthy foods
- Exercise regularly as advised
- Quit smoking
- Use health and fitness-related applications and gadgets such as a smartwatch.
- Get routine overall health and heart check-ups by using various screening and diagnostic methods, e.g. genetic testing, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), echocardiography, electrocardiography (ECG/EKG) and Coronary Artery Calcium Scan (CAC) to detect calcified plaque on the walls of the heart’s arteries.
- Besides heart diseases, patients with other underlying conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity need to complete follow-up visits and comply with all medical advices made by the doctors. If any abnormal sign or symptom exhibits, immediate medical attention must be sought, enabling an accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.
Announced by World Heart Federation, World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29th September. It is a global campaign through which the federation unites people across the world in the fight against the cardiovascular disease burden and drives international action to encourage heart-healthy living. The day is commemorated to promote lifestyle modifications in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases and the range of associated health issues. Healthy-heart tips include eating healthy foods, avoiding sleep deprivation, regular exercise and managing body weight. Annual health and heart check-ups are highly recommended, enabling an early detection and effective treatment before the condition progresses. If abnormal sign or symptoms exhibits, medical assistance provided by the expert cardiologists must be obtained without delay. Patients with other co-morbidities need to ensure that other risk factors predisposing to cardiovascular diseases, such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels are managed within desired ranges. More importantly, all medical recommendations should be strictly followed. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital approaches including telemedicine to monitor and manage cardiovascular diseases with ease and convenience.