Covid-19 and heart disease

People with serious heart conditions are at greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19. We explain what this might mean for you.

In this article


Covid-19 is a virus that can affect your lungs, airways and other organs. It is one of a large group of different viruses called coronaviruses.

Visit the Covid-19 website for up-to-date advice from the Government and information about the traffic light system.

 

Covid-19 website

 

I have heart disease, am I more at risk from Covid-19?

Having a heart condition doesn't make you more likely to catch Covid-19.

However, research shows that people with heart disease or a serious heart condition are more likely to become severely ill from Covid-19 and have a higher risk of death.

Other medical conditions that put you more at risk of serious illness from Covid-19 include:

  • serious respiratory disease, including chronic lung disease and severe asthma
  • severe obesity (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher)
  • high blood pressure that isn't well controlled
  • diabetes that isn’t well controlled
  • chronic kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • conditions and treatments that weaken your immune system, such as some cancers, immune deficiencies, and immunity weakening medications.

You may also be at more risk if you:

  • are over 70
  • live in an aged care facility
  • smoke
  • are Māori, Pacific or of another ethnic minority, particularly where there are also chronic health conditions, crowded housing and difficulty accessing healthcare.
  • are pregnant.

You can read more about at risk groups on the Government website.

How can I stay safe?

Getting a vaccination is the best step you can take to protect yourself and others from serious illness as a result of Covid-19. Read more about this on our Covid 19 vaccination page.

With the traffic light settings there is greater freedom to move around, but it’s still important to take care, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

When you leave the house, you should maintain physical distance and good hygiene practices at all traffic light settings. This includes:

  • Trying not to interact with too many people outside of your own social circle
  • Keeping your distance from people you do not know in public places
  • Wearing a face covering, especially if it is difficult to keep your distance from others. In some situations you’re legally required to wear a face covering.
  • Washing your hands frequently and avoid touching surfaces.
  • Wiping keys, handrails, and regularly touched surfaces.
  • Avoiding passing around your mobile phone to other people.

If you are working and considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, talk with your employer about a risk assessment in your workplace.

Talk your GP or cardiologist if you need help understanding your individual level of risk and how best to stay healthy.

Getting a Covid-19 vaccination

A Covid-19 vaccination is important for all New Zealanders, particularly those in high-risk groups.

Anyone aged five or over can get a vaccination. Children under 12 will get a child vaccine. People aged 12 or over will be given a full adult dose. 

If you’re 18 or over and you received your second dose of the vaccine more than four months ago, you can now have a booster to increase your protection against Covid-19. 

 

Covid-19 vaccinations and the heartHow to get a vaccination

Facemasks and coverings

Face coverings help reduce the spread of Covid-19. In general, face coverings should be worn whenever possible. Covid-19 is transmissible by droplets, so face coverings are a way to protect yourself and others. 

More detailed information on masks and where and when you’re legally required to wear a mask can be found on the Government’s Covid-19 website.

How to wear a fabric mask safely

Who can I call with questions about my heart condition and Covid-19?

The Heart Foundation has a nurse-run free phone line for advice about heart conditions and can give information on Covid-19 and the heart.

The Heart Helpline is available on 0800 863 375 Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

If you have questions on weekends or public holidays, you can email hearthealthinfo@heartfoundation.org.nz. We will respond to you the next business day.

What if I have Covid-19 symptoms?

Symptoms can include one or more of the following:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • a fever
  • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath.

Less common symptoms may include:

  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • malaise - a general feeling of discomfort, illness or unease
  • chest pain
  • abdominal pain
  • joint pain
  • confusion or irritability.

If you have any symptoms call:

  • Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453
  • your doctor, or
  • your iwi health provider.

A health professional will tell you whether you fit the criteria for testing. Call your doctor before visiting.

Covid-19 testing 

You may need a Covid-19 test if:  

  • you have symptoms  
  • if you have been at a location of interest or are a contact of a case 
  • if you’re travelling 
  • you need mandatory testing. 

You can find more information on how and when to get a test on the Government's Covid-19 website. 

 

Talk to one of our nursesStaying well in lockdown