Heart patients advised 'extra caution' during pandemic

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People suffering from cardiovascular diseases are more susceptible to coronavirus as their immune systems are weak, a Turkish health expert said on Friday.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Ömer Bayezid from the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Akdeniz University Hospital spoke about the measures people with heart conditions should take during the ongoing pandemic.

"Heart transplant patients are vulnerable to infections because they take drugs that suppress the immune system. Thus, they must take more precautions to protect themselves," Dr. Bayezid, who has performed 110 heart transplants, and over 150 artificial heart transplants in his years-long career, told Anadolu Agency.

The more recent they had their surgery, he said, the more susceptible they are to risks.

Like others, the professor also stressed the need for adequate sleep and a healthy diet, along with self-isolation as much as possible.

"A 20-year-old patient with an organ transplant should be considered as over 65, and isolate themselves," he said.

"These patients should certainly not leave their homes except unless absolutely necessary. When they go out, they must wear a mask and distance themselves from people."

He also advised them to consume vitamin C supplements along with zinc and selenium.

Stressing that COVID-19 mostly affects the lungs, Dr. Bayezid said smokers and COPD patients were on "high-risk" of getting the virus, which has so far infected over 1 million people in 181 countries.

As many as 79 more people died of the coronavirus in Turkey, the Turkish health minister said on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 356.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 181 countries and regions.

Data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surpassing 1 million, with more than 53,200 deaths. Over 212,300 people have recovered.

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