Covid-19 has hit the nation's health, compounded by Lockdown 3 and impacting the many who are working from home.

Continuing WPA's resilience booster series, Professor Guido Pieles, Consultant Paediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiologist at HCA's Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, outlines his top tips for those worried about their heart health during the current pandemic.

Coronavirus and the heart

Professor Guido Pieles outlines his top tips for protecting the heart, what symptoms you should look out for if you get Covid-19 and what the risks of long-term damage to heart are due to Covid-19.

Video transcript

Hello, my name is Professor Guido Pieles, I'm the Sports Cardiologist and I work here in the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health in London, and here are my top tips for Covid-19 and the heart.

Firstly, and this is probably the most important information, is that Covid involvement regarding the heart is very rare. Your heart is the most important organ in your body and that's why your body protects it. So, there does not need to be fear that the majority of Covid infections effects the heart.

How do you protect your heart?

Healthy diet, exercise, alcohol moderation, no nicotine and a life outdoors certainly help.

What if you do get Covid? Is there any risk to the heart in the immediate phase?

Well, here I would actually warn yes, in the immediate phase, protect your heart by not doing any strenuous exercise. In this phase, ambition is not your friend. Stay at home, stretch, relax, but don't do any strenuous aerobic high intensity exercise during the first 7-14 days of contracting Covid-19.

If then your symptoms have subsided, you should still wait 7 days and then you can start doing your exercise regime again or take up some new exercise.

You should then again not do anything too strenuous too much but give yourself a couple of weeks to start with mild, moderate and then more intense exercise.

What to do if you have a Covid infection?

Very important of course, what to do if you have a Covid infection?

In the acute phase you do not need to have your heart checked out unless you have symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are, chest pain, shortness of breath that is moderate or severe, chest pain particularly during activity, also palpitations, the sensation of a fast heartbeat, dizziness or indeed which is very rare, and hopefully should not happen, faints or collapse.

Then you should see your GP first and you might need to have a referral to a Cardiologist. We are one of the specialist centres here in London that see a lot of athletes, but also the general population for investigations regarding heart and Corona.

What we would suggest is to be done is an electrical trace of the heart, called an Electrocardiogram, ECG should be done and an ultrasound of the heart called an Echocardiogram should be done as well and because it is most important to check your heart is performing well during exercise you would also do exercise imaging and some arrhythmia monitoring at home with mobile ECG devices.

Be positive

My final advice would be of course, be positive. If your symptoms have subsided then please join an active lifestyle again. We also know that there are in very few cases, long-term damage to the heart from Corona, and so the risk is relatively low. If recognised and treated well you can regain your life as it was before.

Thank you very much.