Covid-19 and heart disease

Auckland is currently at Alert Level 3. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. We explain what this means for people living with heart conditions.

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.

Covid-19 website

Current alert level

Auckland is at Alert Level 3. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2.

Read about the Covid-19 alert levels on the Government's website.

If you're at high risk

At Alert Level 3, people at high risk of serious illness, such as those with a heart condition or older people, are recommended to stay at home, for anything other than essential personal services, like healthcare. Even if you’re vaccinated, you should still take precautions.

  • Ask other people to pick up supplies for you and leave them at the door rather than come in.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from people you don’t know, especially those who are unwell.
  • If possible wear a face covering whenever you leave your home. You must wear one when accessing a business or service.
  • Limit interactions with others – at Alert Level 3 bubbles can expand to include a close family member, but make sure it stays exclusive.

At Alert Level 2 you still need to reduce contact with others. There is still some freedom to move around, but you should follow public health measures. If you are an at-risk person, you will need to take extra precautions when doing this. 

  • Only connect with small groups of close family, whānau, and friends — those in or close to your bubble. 
  • Try not to interact with too many people outside your own social circle. 
  • Keep a two metre distance from people you do not know in public places and take extra care with hygiene practices. 
  • It is recommended you wear a facemask when leaving home, especially if it is difficult to keep two metres away from others. You must wear one when legal required.
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching surfaces. 
  • Wipe keys, handrails, and regularly touched surfaces. 
  • Avoid passing around your mobile phone to other people. 
Alert Level 3 advice for at risk peopleAlert Level 2 advice for at risk people

Facemasks and coverings

In general, face coverings should be worn whenever possible. The Delta variant is more transmissible by droplets, so face coverings are a way to protect yourself and others.

At Alert Levels 2 and 3, you’re encouraged to wear a face covering and keep two metres distance from others when leaving your home.

It’s a good idea to wear a face covering around people you don’t know.

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.

The World Health Organisation's video about how to wear a facemask safely.

You can find information on how to wear a face mask safely on the Government's 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 from overseas 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 include:

  • chronic lung disease such as cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive respiratory disease emphysema, severe asthma
  • 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.

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 severely obese (have a BMI of 40 or over).
  • are undergoing dialysis.
  • are in the third stage of pregnancy.

You can read more about at risk groups of the Ministry of Health website.

Taking heart medication

It's important to keep taking your heart medication as prescribed.

If you stop taking your medication, your heart condition could get worse and you may be at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin strongly advises people living with heart conditions to continue taking all their medications unless otherwise advised by their doctor.

"Stopping your medication for high blood pressure and heart conditions could be dangerous and it's important people continue taking medications as prescribed by your doctor," says Gerry.

Medical appointments

For medical emergencies, call 111 immediately. Do not delay treatment if you think you're having a heart attack.

If you need to see a doctor or other medical professional for something that’s not urgent you MUST phone first.

Most consultations will happen over the phone or by videoconference to stop any risk of Covid-19 spreading by person-to-person contact. If a face-to-face meeting is required, your doctor or other medical professional will organise this with you.

Getting a Covid-19 vaccination

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

Anyone aged 12 or over can get a vaccine. You can either book an appointment or visit a walk-in or drive-through clinic.

Find out more on the Government’s Covid-19 website.

Covid-19 vaccine and your heart

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:

  • sneezing and runny nose
  • a new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • a fever of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • nausea and vomiting.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact:

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

They will tell you if you need a test.

You can find more information on testing on the Government's Covid-19 website.

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