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Cardiac surgery and coronavirus: frequently asked questions

Information for patients

Please see our main questions about coronavirus and cardiovascular conditions, along with the below list that relate to cardiac surgery. If your query is not covered below please either email or call us.

The British Heart Foundation's coronavirus: what it means for you if you have heart or circulatory disease webpage is regularly updated and is an excellent source of medically verified advice.

We know that this is a concerning time for many people, especially if you have an existing health problem. Most people with coronavirus (COVID-19) have mild symptoms and make a full recovery. Having a heart and circulatory condition probably doesn't make you any more likely to catch coronavirus than anyone else. However, 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.

  • As always, we remain completely committed to caring for you and your family. If you are worried about your health or feel that your symptoms are getting worse, please let us know so that we can give you the help and treatment you need.
  • If you have been called about, or have an upcoming appointment, we may ask you to see a different doctor or nurse as members of our team are being deployed to help other departments in the hospital.
  • Where appropriate, we may hold appointments over the phone or via a video service.

Frequently asked questions

  • What should I do if my heart symptoms are worsening?

    If you have symptoms that could be a medical emergency (such as a heart attack or stroke), dial 999.

    If you do are worried about your condition, please call our team of nurse practitioners.

    Email: gst-tr.cardiacsurgeryappointments@nhs.net
    Telephone: 020 7188 1044

  • I have had cardiac surgery in the past. Am I at higher risk for getting coronavirus?

    Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill. But some people are at a higher risk and need to take extra steps to avoid becoming unwell. If you are considered to be in a higher risk group as per published guidance, then you will receive a letter from the NHS.

    If you are still recovering from your operation or have heart symptoms, we would ask that you take the recommended actions to keep you safe. To learn more about people in the extremely vulnerable group, please visit the GOV.UK website.

  • I am worried that I might have coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Please also bear in mind that the majority of patients, including the majority of patients with cardiovascular conditions, will make a full recovery from coronavirus.

    Do not leave your home if you have coronavirus symptoms:

    • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
    • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

    To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

    Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

  • 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 coronavirus, 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. But 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 medication?

    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 team, gst-tr.cardiology@nhs.net or by phone on 0207 188 8524 or 0207 188 1073.

  • 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 gst-tr.cardiology@nhs.net or by phone on 020 7188 8524 or 020 7188 1073. 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 us on gst-tr.cardiology@nhs.net or by phone on 020 7188 8524 or 020 7188 1073.

  • 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.

    We may ask you to see a different doctor or nurse to help us manage the increasing demand on our services caused by coronavirus. 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.

 

Coronavirus

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