5 ways to help keep patients safe this fall as the pandemic continues

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has shared five key recommendations to help patients stay safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cardiologists should work to clearly communicate each of these points in the months ahead, the group noted, to help provide clarity and avoid any unnecessary confusion.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague communities across the country, sowing uncertainty as to what the future will bring,” according to the ACC’s statement. “The virus can have catastrophic consequences for patients, particularly those with cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. We must continue to come together for our patients and provide the steady, evidence-based guidance that can help them reduce their risk, navigate the tumult and allay fears.”

The ACC’s recommendations are:

1. Tell patients to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands regularly.

“Whenever possible, we should reinforce the importance of continued vigilance and wearing of masks when in close proximity to others, and especially when indoors,” according to the statement. “A reminder on how to properly wear a mask for maximum protection is also crucial. Similarly, patients should practice sensible social distancing, including avoiding large public gatherings, to curb disease transmission.”

2. Encourage patients to get a flu shot.

Patients should seek out a flu shot as soon as possible, especially amid “growing concerns that the dual threat of influenza and COVID-19 might potentiate the harm of either one alone.”

3. Remind patients not to delay seeking treatment.

4. Remind patients to take all medication as directed.

5. Consider each patient’s mental health and ask how they they are coping with the pandemic.

COVID-19 has caused a massive amount of stress and confusion over the last several months, and cardiologists and other physicians can help ease some of those concerns by providing detailed information and answering any questions that may come up.

“We have not made testing recommendations because every situation is different, and the availability of tests is changing rapidly,” the statement concluded. “Nevertheless, a cadence of testing for essential workers is a reasonable approach. We anticipate there will be some breakthroughs in testing quality, convenience and availability soon. For now, these five recommendations should go a long way to helping patients stay safe.”

For the full ACC document, including an infographic, click here.