COVID-19 AND PULMONARY HYPERTENSION

The health of the members of the pulmonary hypertension (PH) community is always the Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s (PHA’s) top concern. Read on to discover how to maintain your health, tips for daily living during the pandemic, COVID-19 updates and ways to connect with PHA.

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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for the Pulmonary Hypertension Community (updated 5/11/2020)

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing significant concern worldwide and especially within the Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) community. The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) has prepared these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to address many of the questions and concerns that we have heard from the PH community regarding COVID-19. This includes information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the risk to people with underlying health conditions and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. Please call your PH physician or care provider if youare feeling unwell or have further questions.

Q: Are people with PH at greater risk for COVID-19 virus infection?
A: According to the CDC, there is no evidence to suggest that people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. However, there is evidence that people with underlying health conditions, including all types of heart and lung diseases, have a higher risk of developing serious illness from the COVID-19 virus if they become infected. It is currently unknown whether the risk of COVID-19 virus infection is higher in PH patients compared to the general population. Researchers and clinicians are gathering information through PHA-accredited PH
Care Centers to understand the impact of COVID-19 on PH patients.

Q: What safety precautions should I take as a PH patient?
A: These are challenging times and require some rethinking of approaches to daily living. Individuals should consult their PH health care teams with specific questions about personal health risks and safety.

The CDC has provided guidelines for people who are at higher risk. PHA recommends that you check the CDC website frequently for the most current guidelines. The CDC guidelines include:

  • Stay at home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Keep space between yourself and others. It is recommended to keep at least 6 feet apart from others. Avoid large crowds or heavy traffic areas.
  • Limit close contact to other people who are sick.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel, even short trips.
  • The CDC currently recommends covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Everyone should wear a face covering in public settings such as the grocery store or pharmacy.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be used on young children under 2 years old and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The recommended face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators which must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other first responders.
  • The CDC provides instructions on how to wear face coverings, how to make homemade cloth face covers, how to safely remove used face covers and how to safely clean cloth face covers.
  • Continue to keep 6 feet between you and others. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing.

People with PH and those close to them should continue taking precautions to keep themselves healthy and follow the CDC’s guidance for those at higher risk.

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Maintaining Your Health

Telemedicine is Here. Are You Ready?

On May 29 the Pulmonary Hypertension Association hosted a virtual town hall on “Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment.” Participants learned what telemedicine entails, how to prepare for your appointment and how insurance covers a visit. Cardiologist John Ryan and nurse practitioner Jennalyn Mayeux shared real-world experiences in delivering care through telemedicine to help you make the most of your visit. This event was part of our PHA Connects: COVID-19 and Your Health series. See the video.

Are You an Empowered Patient?

On May 21, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) hosted an online conversation about how to become an empowered patient with experts Victor Moles, M.D., and pulmonary hypertension (PH) patient Linda Santos Morgan. This event was part of the wellness series, PHA Connects: COVID-19 and Your Health. Learn more.

PH Treatment Access and COVID-19

As information changes about COVID-19, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) continues to add to treatment access-related resources. Here’s what PHA learned this week about access to distilled water, the hydroxychloroquine drug shortage for PH patients with lupus and COVID-19 financial assistance funds. Learn more.

Will COVID-19 Affect Your Therapy Access?

As information changes about COVID-19, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association addresses treatment-access concerns from the pulmonary hypertension (PH) community. Find out about supply availability, oxygen delivery and lab test requirements. Learn more.

Videos to Safely Start a Home Exercise Routine for PH Patients

Feeling restless while sheltering in place? Consult your doctor about how to safely resume or add exercise into your daily routine. The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) recently released five new videos designed to improve pulmonary hypertension (PH) patients’ understanding of major types of exercise. Check out the newest additions to our PHA Classroom videos.

Daily Living

Sewing for a Cause: 6 PH Community Members Give Back

Several members of the pulmonary hypertension community have put their crafting and sewing skills to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re making masks for family, friends, health care workers and other ­first responders. We talk to beginning and experienced seamstresses about their mask-making endeavors. Learn more.

Helpful, Healthful Housecleaning Tips

Frequently cleaning your house can keep COVID-19 and other viruses at bay. Get helpful tips to clean and sanitize your home from the CDC.

Join Our Virtual PH Community

5 Healthful Ways for PH Community to Connect

Much of the United States – and other countries – is under stay-at-home orders. Physical distancing can cause feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. Discover ways to connect with others in the PH community to share common questions and concerns – and connect with each other.

PH & COVID-19

Preguntas y Respuestas con Expertos sobre Hipertensión Pulmonar y COVID-19

Únase a la Asociación de Hipertensión Pulmonar (Pulmonary Hypertension Association, PHA) para un evento en Facebook Live en español. Este ayuntamiento virtual presenta una serie de preguntas y respuestas con Gustavo Heresi, M.D., M.S., sobre hipertensión pulmonar (HP) y COVID-19. Aprende más.

Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19, Your Child and PH

Discover timely information on what COVID-19 means to you and your family with a virtual town hall from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA). The event, covered “COVID-19, Your Child and Pulmonary Hypertension.” Watch it here.

Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Ron Oudiz

On Friday, April 17, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association hosted a Facebook Live Q&A with Ron Oudiz, M.D., on pulmonary hypertension and COVID-19. Watch it here.

Video: Coronavirus Tips for Pediatric Patients

As the coronavirus pandemic escalates, it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with your medical team. That’s especially important for parents of children with pulmonary hypertension (PH), says Nidhy Varghese, M.D., medical director of the pulmonary hypertension program at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Dr. Varghese advises the nurse practitioner-led Pulmonary Hypertension Association support group at Texas Children’s Hospital and serves on the PH Care Centers Review Committee. Learn more.

COVID-19 Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms which may be mild or severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed the COVID-19 symptom list to include cough and shortness of breath or at least two the following symptoms: fever, chills, repeating shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Learn about potential symptoms and warning signs.

About COVID-19

A new coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 is causing a global outbreak of a respiratory illness, coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2003. Learn more.

Quick Links to the CDC

Resources

COVID-19 Financial Relief Funds
Good Days has opened a COVID-19 emergency relief fund (COVID-ER) for individuals with health insurance through Medicare or the military. The new fund provides reimbursement for expenses such as food, utility bills, housing and transportation for individuals whose income is less than 300% of the federal poverty level. Learn more an apply at https://www.mygooddays.org/patients/diseases-covered/covid19-emergency-relief-fund or by calling (855) 215-2717.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) offers a COVID-19 Critical Relief Program, which provides up to $1,000 annually to eligible patients for essential non-medical expenses such as rent, utilities and phone or internet service. NORD also offers a COVID-19 Rare Disease Premium and Medical Assistance Program that provides financial assistance for specific out-of-pocket costs associated with patient’s health insurance premiums, ranging from health insurance premiums and lab testing to therapy and equipment. For more information, visit RareDiseases.org, email or call 203-242-0497.

The PAN Foundation offers a COVID-19 Treatment and Prevention Fund for Medicare recipients with a rare or chronic health condition to use for items such as medications, medical equipment, or groceries and meals. The fund offers direct assistance of $300 for individuals who have been either diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed to self-quarantine. Learn more about rules and eligibility. Apply by calling 866-316-7263.

COVID-19 In The News

Could Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) Patients Be at a Lower Risk From Severe COVID-19?
A recent PHA survey of doctors treating PAH patients with COVID-19 reported their patients had more mild symptoms, fewer hospitalizations and quicker recovery than expected. The authors explore various reasons why this may be the case. The article is published in the April issue of Pulmonary Circulation.

What Doctors on the Front Lines Are Discovering
Some doctors are finding that ventilators may not be the best choice for COVID-19 patients. This New York Times article shows how doctors are helping people with very low oxygen levels by having them change position in bed and breathe on their own (with oxygen) for as long as possible. Some patients are being helped with reconfigured CPAP breathing machines. Read more.

Registries of Those With Chronic Diseases Can Help Understand COVID-19
Wired magazine’s story shows how doctors around the world are sharing data and creating registries of people with COVID-19 who also have a chronic disease. “Each entry is just an anecdote: the bare details of each patient’s age, underlying conditions, the medicines they take regularly and for COVID-19, and how well they fare under treatment. But collectively, the registries offer a valuable picture of an evolving disease.” Read more.

Inequality Intensifies the Coronavirus Crisis in Detroit
Dr. Rana Awdish, a PHA member physician who directs the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital, a PHA-accredited Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center in Detroit, is among the critical care doctors featured in The New Yorker magazine. The story examines the disproportionate numbers of African Americans who are hospitalized with COVID-19 and the socioeconomic disparities behind this trend. Read more.

How to Avoid Coronavirus? Lessons from a PAH Patient
The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, talked with Andrea Amelse about the routine she developed to live with lupus and pulmonary arterial hypertension in the past eight years and how it helped her to protect herself from the new coronavirus. Read more.

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If you missed PHA’s "Preparing for a #Telemedicine Appointment" virtual town hall with cardiologist John Ryan and nurse practitioner Jennalyn Mayeux, you can watch the recorded online discussion here: ow.ly/v63150zN34I #PHAConnects ... See MoreSee Less

If you missed PHA’s Preparing for a #Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall with cardiologist John Ryan and nurse practitioner Jennalyn Mayeux, you can watch the recorded online discussion here: http://ow.ly/v63150zN34I #PHAConnects

Comment on Facebook

Thank you for having this teleconference call with regard to telemedicine. I learned so much and have a teleconference appt on Monday so I am able to get ready for it. Very informative!

Join us NOW for our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall! ow.ly/fy2150zMUf5 #PHAConnects ... See MoreSee Less

Join us NOW for our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall! http://ow.ly/fy2150zMUf5 #PHAConnects

We're one hour away until our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall at 3 p.m. EDT! Make the most out of your #telemedicine visits by registering now: ow.ly/fy2150zMUf5 #PHAConnects ... See MoreSee Less

Were one hour away until our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall at 3 p.m. EDT! Make the most out of your #telemedicine visits by registering now: http://ow.ly/fy2150zMUf5 #PHAConnects

Need help navigating your online doctor visits? Check out PHA’s telemedicine worksheet to learn how to prepare and make the most out of your telemedicine appointments. ow.ly/97PB50zSUEq
And tune in tomorrow, May 29 at 3 p.m. EDT, for our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall. Register now: ow.ly/ZP9U50zSUEo #PHAConnects
... See MoreSee Less

Need help navigating your online doctor visits? Check out PHA’s telemedicine worksheet to learn how to prepare and make the most out of your telemedicine appointments. http://ow.ly/97PB50zSUEq
And tune in tomorrow, May 29 at 3 p.m. EDT, for our Preparing for a Telemedicine Appointment virtual town hall. Register now: http://ow.ly/ZP9U50zSUEo #PHAConnects