As India grapples with the second of the deadly coronavirus disease amid shortage of medical supplies, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in a press release shared the frequently asked questions for patients with hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases.
Through its release, ICMR not only answered a few important questions but also burst the myths related to the aforementioned diseases.
According to the release, "some of the people with diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases including heart failure (weak heart) may develop more severe symptoms and complications." ICMR has recommended such patients to ensure that they take all medications prescribed regularly as before even if they are mildly symptomatic.
"Don’t stop any medication unless advised by your doctor. Continue with your blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease medications in case you are unable to visit your doctor. Medications to control cholesterol (statins) should be continued," said ICMR in its release.
Answering if people with diabetes are more prone to COVID-19 disease, the medical research body said: "In general, you know that people with uncontrolled diabetes are at increased risk of all infections. People with diabetes are not at higher risk for acquiring the infection, but some individuals are prone to more severe disease and poorer outcomes once infected.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Hence, follow your diet and exercise routine (to the extent possible), take your medications regularly and test your sugar levels frequently so as to keep your diabetes under control. When diabetic patients become sick, they may require frequent monitoring of blood glucose and adjustment of drugs including insulin, small frequent meals and adequate fluids."
Addressing the reports about BP medications increasing severity of COVID-19, ICMR said, "After review of available information the consensus of various scientific societies and expert group of cardiologists is that currently there is no evidence that the two group of drugs- ACE inhibitors (eg. Ramipril, Enalapril and so on) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) (eg. Losartan, Telmisartan and so on) increase the susceptibility or severity of COVID-19.
These drugs are very effective for heart failure by supporting your heart function, and controlling high blood pressure. It maybe be harmful to stop these medications by yourself. This can worsen your heart condition."
ICMR also warned against taking pain killers called NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen; which were found to worsen the COVID-19. "Such drugs are known to be harmful to heart failure patients and may increase your risk of kidney damage. Avoid NSAIDs or take them only when prescribed by your doctor.
The medical body called Paracetamol one of the safest pain killers to use if needed.
Patients with aforementioned conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases should focus on controlling the risk factor levels. ICMR recommends such patients to avoid smoking and alcohol, have BP and blood sugar levels under control.
"Have some form of regular physical activity (However, please modify your out-door activities according to the norms of social-distancing). Follow the diet and salt restriction as advised. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can continue to be so. Increasing the fibre and protein content of the diet and more vegetables and fruits in diet is advisable," advised the health experts.