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Cardiovascular and coronavirus: frequently asked questions

Information for patients

This page lists general questions related to coronavirus and cardiovascular conditions. For detailed questions regarding your condition, including contact details for your clinical team, please see the relevant speciality.

If you don’t know which clinical team or specialty is providing your care, please email gst-tr.cardiology@nhs.net or call us on 0207 188 8524 or 0207 188 1073.

Frequently asked questions

  • I have symptoms that are worrying me and I am not sure what to do.

    If you have symptoms that could be a medical emergency (such as a heart attack or stroke), dial 999. Even though the NHS is under pressure, we can still treat patients quickly and safely in an emergency. You should always dial 999 immediately if you:

    • have sudden chest pain which spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
    • have sudden chest pain which feels heavy or tight
    • show signs of a stroke, such as your face drooping on one side, are unable to hold both arms up, or have difficulty speaking, have severe difficulty breathing such as gasping for breath, choking, lips turning blue, or not being able to get words out.

    If you are concerned that your symptoms relate to COVID-19, you should use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. To protect yourself from exposure to coronavirus, you should remain at home and follow government advice on social distancing and self isolation.

    Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, it is essential to come to hospital if you have a medical emergency, or if your heart symptoms get much worse.

    If the symptoms are related to the condition that are long-standing and you need specific clinical advice, please contact your specialist cardiovascular team.

  • When are hospital services going to return to normal?

    Unfortunately, we do not know how long this will last. We understand that this is a concerning time. Providing our patients with the best – and safest – care is essential. However, we can assure you that we will continue to work together to ensure that services are safe and effective for our patients.

  • I am a patient and am worried about getting coronavirus. Should I shield myself/self-isolate?

    Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill, however, some people are at a higher risk and need to take extra steps to avoid becoming unwell. Having a heart and circulatory condition probably doesn't make you any more likely to catch coronavirus than anyone else but if you have a heart or circulatory condition it may mean that you could become more ill if you get coronavirus, which is why it's really important to protect yourself.

    The NHS website has advice for people who may be at higher risk, including what they can do to protect themselves.

    Even if you are not considered to be at extremely high risk, you should be staying at home apart from essential needs as per current government advice, as you may still be at particularly high risk because of your heart condition. You may be at particularly high risk if you have:

    • heart or circulatory disease and are aged over 70
    • Heart or circulatory disease and lung disease or chronic kidney disease
    • angina that restricts your daily life, or means you have to use glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) frequently
    • heart failure, especially if it restricts your daily life or you’ve been admitted to hospital to treat your heart failure in the past year
    • heart valve disease that is severe and associated with symptoms, such as regularly feeling breathless, or you have symptoms from your heart valve problem despite medication, or if you are waiting for valve surgery (a heart murmur that does not cause you symptoms doesn't put you at high risk).
  • Should I continue my medications?

    Do not stop any medication unless specifically told to do so by your clinical team. If you are experiencing new symptoms, or are concerned about your medications, please contact your specialist cardiovascular team.

  • My medication is running out and I need a prescription.

    If your medication is usually prescribed by your GP, please contact the surgery. We understand that some patients are struggling to get in touch with the GP practices, in which case please contact the team looking after you so we can help if we can.

  • I have an appointment soon and I have not heard from you.

    We are attempting to contact all patients in advance of their appointments. If you haven’t heard from us and your appointment is less than three days away, please contact the team looking after you (that is, the team and consultant to whom you have been referred).

  • I am unable to get in touch with my usual doctor or nurse and I am worried.

    We are really sorry, as we know it is a very stressful time, especially if you can't speak to the people who know you and your condition best. Our cardiovascular department is a large team, and many of us have (and will be) deployed to help other departments during this unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus situation. Another doctor or nurse may be handling your care and will contact you in the meantime. They will have access to all of the information they need about your care.

  • I have been referred to the service. Why I have not heard anything?

    We know that being referred to see a specialist can be concerning, and that the coronavirus situation may be making you feel more anxious. Please be assured that we have received your referral and one of our specialists is reviewing it. If your appointment is urgent, you will be scheduled for a face-to-face appointment or a clinician may contact you by phone.

  • Why has my appointment been changed?

    To reduce the risk to our patients, whilst still ensuring they get the care they need, our team of consultants and nurses are carefully reviewing every single patient's medical history and test results. Following these detailed reviews, they can find which patients need to be seen in person, which patients could have a 'virtual' review (eg by telephone), and which patients could safely have their appointment safely postponed.

    We are currently working to contact every patient regarding any changes. We understand that you may have waited some time for an appointment, and we apologise that your appointment may be changed. 

    After our detailed review, one of the following may happen:

    • in some cases, we are changing appointments to a telephone consultation, and in certain circumstances, a video appointment. This prevents you from having to travel to the Trust
    • Some appointments may be deferred without a future date being arranged at this stage. If we defer your appointment, this is because we believe it is safe to do so. You will remain on our waiting list and we will contact you in due course. If your symptoms have changed and you think you should be seen, please contact your team so we can give you the help and treatment you need
    • some patients may be discharged back to their GP and we will write to you if this is the case. If you have been discharged back to your GP, it is because we believe it is safe to do so. If your situation as changed, please let us know.

    If you are worried about your health or feel that you are getting worse, please let us know so that we can give you the help and treatment you need. Contact details for each team can be found through the main pages for cardiology, cardiac surgery, and vascular surgery.

  • Should I stop smoking because of coronavirus?

    All of the evidence suggests that smokers are at higher risk of complications from coronavirus. Smoking increases your risk of catching it (because you touch your mouth more frequently when smoking) and because it damages your lungs and general health. If you smoke, please try to stop smoking today.

 

Coronavirus

Please visit the main Trust coronavirus (COVID-19) page for more information.