AHA Urges Americans With Heart Disease to Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

February 8, 2021
Christine Blank

The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging those with heart conditions and those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging all Americans—but particularly those with heart conditions or who are at risk for cardiovascular disease—to receive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

“The AHA recommends that all people get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn, according to eligibility category. But vaccination is especially important for those at higher risk for serious complications or death, which includes people with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and heart attack and stroke survivors,” Eduardo Sanchez, MD, FAAFP, chief medical officer for the AHA, told Drug Topics®.

“People with hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease are experiencing COVID-19 mortality rates 2 to 3 times higher than the general population,” Sanchez added.

According to the CDC, nearly 3 out of 4 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a high-risk condition.1

“Nearly 7 in 10 had high blood pressure, 1 in 4 had cardiovascular disease, and 4in 10 had diabetes. Among adults aged 65 or older hospitalized with COVID-19 nearly half had underlying cardiovascular disease,” Sanchez said.

Studies have demonstrated that stroke survivors and those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease or risk factors who contract COVID-19 become sicker than those without an underlying disease — likely due to increased demands on the heart compounded by low oxygen levels, according to Sanchez.

The AHA is particularly concerned about Black, Hispanic, and Native American people and those living in rural areas, “who are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 and more severe complications, including heart issues and even death,” Sanchez said.

“Vaccination is especially important for all who are in these categories,” Sanchez said. “Persons from these race or ethnic groups and from rural areas are more likely to have underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, are more likely to work essential jobs limiting their ability to socially distance, and are less likely to have access to health care.”

In both the Black and Hispanic communities, only 40% of individuals say they feel confident they have enough information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, compared with 60% in the overall population, the Ad Council said in a news release.2

The AHA is a founding supporter of the Ad Council campaign to encourage vaccination against the virus, “which will represent one of the largest public education campaigns in history,” according to an AHA press release.3

“Historically, vaccines have overwhelmingly been the safest and most effective way to address infectious diseases. However, some people have reservations about vaccines in general and other may have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine,” Sanchez said. “While this is understandable, it is important to recognize that these COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and the likelihood of serious complications is very low — less than 0.5%.”

References:

1. Gold J, Wong K, et al. Characteristics and clinical outcomes of adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — Georgia, March 2020. MMWR. May 8, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6918e1.htm

2. Ad Council Launches $50 Million Fund for National COVID-19 Vaccine Education Effort. News release. Ad Council; November 23, 2020. Accessed February 5, 2020. https://www.adcouncil.org/press-releases/ad-council-launches-50-million-fund-for-national-covid-19-vaccine-education-effort

3. Heart disease and stroke medical experts urge public to get COVID-19 vaccinations. News release. American Heart Association, January 15, 2021. Accessed February 5, 2021. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/heart-disease-and-stroke-medical-experts-urge-public-to-get-covid-19-vaccinations