COVID-19 and Cardiovascular Disease: Why Early Detection Matters

COVID-19 has already shown to more seriously impact those with chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and COPD, as well as tobacco users and those who are overweight or obese. Now physicians are seeing an alarming rate of patients with cardiovascular conditions falling ill and experiencing higher mortality rates due to the virus. Those with underlying conditions are already urged to take extreme caution but those with cardiovascular disease are more vulnerable and face more serious complications. Cardiovascular disease has shown to be the deadliest of underlying conditions for COVID-19 patients.

Those with cardiovascular disease have weakened hearts and may experience additional complications if they contract COVID-19, including heart-rhythm disorders, blood clots and chest pain resembling a heart attack. While they are typically an older subset, hypertension, coronary artery disease and other heart conditions also put younger people in the high-risk category of being more adversely affected by COVID-19.

Individuals with cardiovascular disease have COVID-19 mortality rates four times higher than all other groups. And those with hypertension, a common precursor to cardiovascular disease, have a mortality rate three times higher. A study in JAMA Cardiology has shown that nearly half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. have hypertension and 27.8% have cardiovascular disease. These alarming statistics show that we need to do a better job of addressing cardiovascular disease prior to major pandemics such as SARS, MERS, COVID-19 and even severe seasonal influenza.

Of further concern is that those who are self-quarantined or following stay-at-home orders are not taking proper care of themselves: not visiting their physician and even skipping medications, making them more susceptible to the virus and at a higher risk for long-term health consequences. This offers a significant opportunity for employers to check-in with employees through a wellbeing program or virtual health coaching. These opportunities allow for employers to continue existing employee health initiatives or even establish new programs that are available for employees who are working from home. Programs such as these can be managed through technology such as the bIQ™ Population Health Management platform which makes it possible to expand or deploy an employer’s health management initiatives.

The bIQ platform can help provide early detection of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, through health risk assessments and screening programs. Employees who are identified as high-risk are given the tools to track their conditions, resources to assist with behavior modification and referrals to physicians. bIQ also helps establish a health coaching program to assist those at high-risk with navigating their health journey.

COVID-19 has the potential to intensify the focus on early detection for those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. A good wellbeing program will focus on providing the tools and resources to high-risk patients so that they can better manage their conditions and modify behaviors, leaving them in better health to face pandemics such as COVID-19. Employers can use the technology provided by Applied Health Analytics to provide screenings, analyze data, identify high-risk employees and provide behavior modification tools such as health coaching. COVID-19 will leave us with an intensified focus on health management and early detection and Applied Health Analytics can provide the technology to streamline this process.

Applied Health Analytics can assist hospitals and health systems plan the next steps in helping employers manage their employee health initiatives, as well as provide more information on what you can do now. Contact Applied Health Analytics to learn more.