Avera Medical Minute: Reassuring cardiac patients during COVID-19 pandemic

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The COVID-19 virus is particularly dangerous for those who have underlying medical conditions.

For those with a history of heart issues, this pandemic has been a troubling time.

Dakota News Now Anchor Brian Allen recently spoke with North Central Hearth Institute Cardiologist Dr. J. Michael Bacharach.

He started by asking what patients should do if they're concerned about coming in for appointments.

Dr. Bacharach: Yes, they definitely need to come. I think what we need to do is reassure patients that we can provide appropriate protection staff and emergency departments in hospitals have the appropriate protective gear. They can keep them isolated so they're not exposed to other patients who may have coronavirus. I think the real message is that people not stay at home if they're having chest pressure, tightness, if they're experiencing symptoms that may be cardiac, they need to seek medical attention immediately.

Brian Allen: Are virtual visits a possibility for some patients?

Dr. Bacharach: Yes, they are and certainly patients who are experiencing a change in their symptoms, experiencing increased shortness of breath, those sorts of things, yes we can provide telemedicine and we can provide some reassurance and make the determination whether they need to come in or not.

Brian Allen: I wonder what advice you might have for cardiac patients about managing their stress so they don't aggravate their existing conditions?

Dr. Bacharach: Well there are lots of different thoughts about that. I think people need to stay calm. I think it's important especially for cardiac patients to do the social distancing and avoid being out and potentially exposed because as we said earlier patients with cardiac clearly are at significantly increased risk from the coronavirus and in fact they don't do very well when they do get infected.

Brian Allen: I'm wondering what it's like to practice medicine in an environment where we're enduring a pandemic. You're trying to treat medical conditions while worrying about exposing people to another medical condition.

Dr. Bacharach: Well there's no question this is an unprecedented and perilous time for both patients and patient's families and certainly for frontline medical workers, ER physicians, nurses, all the people who have to look after patients. So it has changed things dramatically.