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17 March 2020

Institute news

Global research suggests that older people and people with chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are at higher risk of dying from coronavirus than the rest of the population.

The reasons for this increased risk are still being investigated and are likely to be complex.

Data from the World Health Organisation shows people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, among others, have extra reasons to be alert when it comes to coronavirus.

Communication from the Australian Department of Health reinforces this, highlighting that people with chronic health conditions are one group who are most at risk of serious infection.

As researchers and clinicians who engage regularly with people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we are closely monitoring this unfolding situation to see if our expertise in chronic disease and the immune system can be of assistance. 

Advice for people living with cardiovascular disease and diabetes:

  1. Take steps to avoid infection. These include:
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds (that’s three “Happy Birthday” songs).
    • Using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
    • Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching.
    • Staying at home and minimizing social contact if you are 70 years or older, or have chronic disease.
    • At any age, staying at home if you feel sick.
  2. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  3. Make sure your routine vaccines are up to date, especially as flu season approaches. The new flu vaccine will be made available in April.
  4. Keep up your medical checks. The Australian Government has also recently introduced bulk-billed telehealth medical services in response to the coronavirus threat. This will allow people to access essential health services in their home while they undergo self-isolation or quarantine, and reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus for vulnerable people in the community. Telehealth services will be available under Medicare for people with chronic health conditions, people aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50, people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women and parents with new babies.

You can stay up to date with information about protective measures, and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms by monitoring updates from the Department of Health or by calling the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

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