Read our latest advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19)


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Congenital heart disease 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 email gst-tr.achd@nhs.net.

The British Heart Foundation coronavirus page 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.

Together, we will get through this. Everyone at Guy's and St Thomas' are dedicated to providing world class care for all our patients.

Frequently asked questions

  • Does having congenital heart disease put me in a higher risk category for coronavirus (COVID-19)?

    Patients with any of the following conditions are in the 'higher risk' category:

    • fontan circulation
    • chronic cyanosis (very low oxygen levels)
    • significant valvular disease
    • impaired cardiac function requiring medication
    • pulmonary hypertension
    • heart transplant
    • associated comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease or chronic lung disease

    In this instance you should be stay at home and follow government advice on social distancing and self isolation. Extremely vulnerable patients should be shielding themselves. To learn more about people in the extremely vulnerable group and shielding, please visit the Gov.uk website.

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

    Please 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. 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 3 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.

    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.

  • Where can I find more information?

    There are many trusted resources containing information on coronavirus (COVID-19), its symptoms, and ways that you can to protect yourself.

    NHS website - symptoms and risk factors for coronavirus (Covid-19)

    British Heart Foundation - coronavirus: what it means for you if you have heart or circulatory disease

    - Coronavirus information on Gov.uk