Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 and It’s Impact on CHD

For parents and caretakers of kids with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD), the COVID-19 pandemic has added a lot of stress. We at Genesis Foundation have drawn up a list of the most common questions worrying everyone.
We’re grateful to Dr. Mahesh K, Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and Dr. R Krishna Kumar, Clinical Professor and Head Pediatric Cardiology from the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi for providing us this information.

What is COVID-19 and what are it’s symptoms?
COVID-19 is a new illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Without prior experience in this disease, we are only beginning to learn how it is impacting people We are just starting to learn how COVID-19 will impact people. Some of the common signs displayed by those infected by COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, tiredness and body pain. Some people might also have a wet cough, chest pain or difficulty breathing. An even smaller number of people might experience diarrhea, vomiting, or dizziness. However, many adults and children with COVID-19 are asymptomatic as well. This means they do not show any of the symptoms mentioned above and yet they are capable of passing COVID-19 to others. Your local health experts will have the most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 may affect you.

A diagram of the coronavirus virion structure showing spikes that form a “crown” like the solar corona, hence the name.

Is COVID-19 especially dangerous to children?
Most patients display mild symptoms and get better in a few days. Until now, very few children with COVID-19 have become critical or fatal case. But this does not mean that children are completely safe, because they’re always in the vicinity of adults. And one in five adults who contract the coronavirus, need formal medical care in a hospital. Even with a good recovery rate, adults who have other illnesses have a higher mortality rate. This information may change as we learn more.

Does COVID-19 pose a greater risk for children with Congenital Heart Defects?
With the present research, we do not know for certain how this virus will affect children with heart defects. Most hospitals and heart centers have not seen any CHD kids being infected with COVID-19 yet. We do not expect all the children with congenital heart defects to be at a high risk, except those who have had heart surgery or heart transplant within the last three months.

Are kids with a heart device more vulnerable to the infection?
Pacemakers, heart valves, stents, conduits (tubes), closure devices and the like will not be affected by COVID-19.

Is there a vaccine or drug for COVID-19?
Extensive research and trials are underway in different parts of the world. But right now there is no vaccine to prevent or treat COVID-19. Several drugs are being tried and tested to see if they work safely.

Without successful vaccines, taking the correct precautions is the only remedy for Coronavirus as of now.

What should I do if my child has a date for a CHD surgery soon?
For the safety of children, most hospitals are operating on emergency, urgent or critical surgeries only at the moment. Since some heart surgeries can be easily postponed without any major risks, the doctor might suggest delaying your child’s operation. The best thing to do would be asking your child’s heart care team for a consultation.

Should I send my child to school if he/she has any of the high-risk heart conditions?
By all means, any child with a high-risk heart condition should stay home even if they’re feeling absolutely well. However, for any reason if this is not possible, you can ask your child’s heart team for what all can you do to ensure your child’s safety.

Are there any medications that are helpful with flu symptoms? Plain acetaminophen such as Tylenol, Paracetamol, Calpol, and Panadol can help with pain and fever. Always consult your child’s doctor before using any other medications.

What should I do if I feel that me or my child has contracted COVID-19?
If you or your child, or anyone in your household develops symptoms, the first step should be to immediately isolate the sick person. Next, you should contact your medical team over a phone call to discuss. If the symptoms get better, there is no need to panic or rush to the clinics and hospitals. However, if the symptoms get worse then ask your doctor for advice.

All children above 2 years of age are suggested to wear face masks.

What should I do if my child’s heart condition becomes worse?
If your child shows symptoms like breathlessness, drowsiness without a reason, becomes blue or the like, you should seek medical help immediately. You must rush to the nearest hospital for further medical care and if possible, try calling in before-hand so the hospital is prepared to deal with your child’s emergency.

For any other CHD-related information, click here.

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