Covid-19 and heart disease

Auckland is currently at Alert Level 4. 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 4. 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 4, people at high risk of severe illness, such as those with a heart condition or older people, should stay at home where possible and restrict contact with others. 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 who are unwell.
  • Wear a face covering if you need to leave your home.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

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. 
  • Wear a facemask where possible.  
  • 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 4 advice for at-risk peopleAlert Level 2 advice for at risk people

Facemasks and coverings

At Alert Level 4

Wear a face covering and keep two metres distance from others when leaving your home, especially if it is hard to maintain physical distance from others.  

You legally must wear a face covering when: 

  • on public transport and at arrival and departure points, for example airports, train stations and bus stops 
  • on flights 
  • in taxis or ride share vehicles 
  • visiting a healthcare facility 
  • visiting an aged care facility 
  • inside any business or service operating at these levels, like supermarkets, pharmacies, healthcare facilities and petrol stations. 

At Alert Level 2

It is still a good idea to wear a facemask when you’re out and about, especially if you’re in a high-risk group. 

You legally must wear a face covering when: 

  • using public transport, airplanes (including in arrival and departure points such as train stations and bus stops) and in a taxi or ride-share vehicle 
  • visiting a healthcare or aged care facility 
  • inside retail businesses, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping malls, indoor marketplaces, takeaway food stores, and public venues, such as museums and libraries 
  • visiting the public areas within courts and tribunals, local and central Government agencies, and social service providers with customer service counters. 

For more information on masks please refer to the Government's 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 and how to make your own facemask 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.

You can still get a Covid 19 vaccination during Level 4 lockdown. Find out how to book an appointment on the Government’s Covid 19 website.

If you have questions about your vaccination you can all the Government’s Covid 19 vaccination line on 0800 28 29 26.

Read more about Covid-19 vaccinations

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.

Talk to one of our nursesStaying well in lockdown