Dr. Amin Al-Ahmad, Cardiac Electrophysiologist at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center, took some time with Studio 512 to discuss COVID-19’s impact on local emergency rooms and what heart patients should know about seeking emergency care.

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and remember to act F.A.S.T. during a stroke: F.A.S.T. stands for Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty – Time to call 911. The American Heart Association is advising caution and preparation for people who have heart disease or who have survived a stroke, because they are among those facing a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

While the overall risk of getting this virus is currently low, the situation is rapidly evolving. People who have heart disease or another underlying condition should stay home to limit their risk of contracting the virus. Get prepared at home. Think about how you would manage your condition from home for an extended amount of time.

Other things to keep in mind: make sure you can reach your doctor quickly. Gather contact information for your health care providers and store in an easy-to-locate place. Get office phone numbers, emergency numbers and email addresses, and check to see whether electronic consulting or instant messaging options are available.

If you live alone, gather a list of support contacts who you might call on if needed, such as friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors. Keep this contact information all together in one easy-to-find place as well. Take stock of your medications. Make sure you have enough for an extended time. Also figure out how you would get refills if you couldn’t leave home. Find out if your pharmacy can deliver refills. Your health care provider or health plan may help advise you here as well.”

The American Heart Association has a lot of resources about how to stay healthy during the pandemic. Make sure you check out Heart.org for more information.

Sponsored by The American Heart Association. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.