Coronavirus

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. But what does this mean for those living with cholesterol or lipid conditions?

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Here you can find out about coronavirus and how it might affect you if you have high cholesterol or a related condition such as heart disease. You can also find out if you are at higher risk, and what that means. 

 

Am I more at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) if I have high cholesterol?

Having a high cholesterol level does not mean you're more likely to catch coronavirus (COVID-19), or raise the risk of severe disease if you do catch it – but do check our information on who is at risk below. 

However, just as catching seasonal flu can impact conditions such as coronary heart disease, coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to have a similar effect. Any virus that enters the body can put excess stress on your body's systems and organs, and this can cause existing conditions to worsen. This is why taking steps to protect yourself from catching the virus is so important, even if you feel fit and well.  

  • You should continue taking all your medications as prescribed unless your doctor or 111 tell you otherwise.
  • Make sure that you have your usual stock of medications available. There is no current need to order any extra stock of medications.
  • You can also ask your surgery or pharmacy if they offer a delivery service, or if they can suggest a company that can offer this for you.

Most GP services, some hospitals and clinics, and some specialist FH services are unable to operate as normal in order to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. There may, therefore, be delays and cancellations for routine appointments. Where possible, seek information and support online from reputable websites about your health conditions, such as the NHS and health charities. 

A joint statement from the British Cardiovascular Society and the British Society for Heart Failure has offered reassurance to people taking ACE Inhibitors (drugs usually ending in '-pril', such as ramipril) and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs, drugs usually ending in '-sartan', such as candesartan).

Read about coronavirus is you have FH

How do I know if I am at a higher risk (known as clinically vulnerable)? 

The government have identified the following people as being at a higher risk, or 'clinically vulnerable'. If this includes you, be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. You may have seen these groups listed on the government and NHS websites, they are:

Our HEART UK lipid experts have also identified people who at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus

This is in addition to some people with FH and those listed above by the government above. This includes you if you have one or more of the following risk factors or conditions which affect your heart and blood vessels:

  • coronary heart disease or stroke – a past heart attack, stent, bypass surgery, stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini stroke)
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease)
  • a confirmed diagnosis of the inherited lipid condition Familial Dysbetalipoproteinaemia (Type 3)
  • severe obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diabetes
  • steroid medication: doses of Prednisolone above 15mgs are generally considered as immunosuppressive but all patients who are taking oral or inhaled steroids are at higher risk of developing severe disease if they contract coronavirus.

If you have one or more of these conditions you should follow the government’s social distancing measures very closely, particularly now certain restrictions have been eased.

Currently the Government advice is for people to stay at home as much as possible and work from home if you can, but this is set to change in the near future. They will provide an update on August 1st for employers. They have already provided COVID-19 Secure guidance for employers to ensure safe working and social distancing measures are in place for those returning to the work environment. View the guidance at www.gov.uk/coronavirus – under work and financial support. 

If you have any concerns about returning to work please contact your GP or specialist for further advice.

See the Government's advice on easing restrictions and what you can and can't do.

See the advice

How do I know if I'm at very high risk (known as extremely clinically vulnerable)?

People falling into this highest risk (or extremely clinically vulnerable) group includes people who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
  • are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition. 

The government plans to pause shielding of this group from 1st August 2020 unless coronavirus transmission starts to rise significantly in the community. 

See the full Government guidance on shielding vulnerable people

Our Cholesterol Helpline is running as usual to support you and the NHS, so please contact us if you have any concerns about cholesterol conditions and coronavirus. We might have more callers than usual so if you can’t get through, feel free to email us at ask@heartuk.org.uk and we'll get back to you. 

Please note that we are not able to diagnose coronavirus so please refer to Government and NHS guidance if you think you may have coronavirus symptoms. 

Where can I get information and support?

A number of other charities have produced specific advice about coronavirus.

There is official information from the NHS and the Government covering:

 

An overview of coronavirus

The Government response

Travel advice

Stay at home guidance

For GP and prescriber information

click here