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COVID-19 and Heart Risk

Heart health is more important now then ever because of the increased risk factors of COVID-19, Ron Breinich, a patient at Geisinger says it’s been tough adjustment.

“They treat you like a king or queen, you can’t beat it they will help you no matter what. They always try and do the best they can for all patients.”

Born with congenital heart abnormalities, Ron Breinich has stayed a loyal patient at Geisinger throughout most of his life.

“Unfortunately, by the age of 62 his valve was completely obliterated, not functioning at all. At that point he felt horrible. His heart wasn’t squeezing appropriately it wasn’t getting to his body like it should be and at that point he needed surgery.”

Ron underwent surgery at Geisinger in Danville, but afterwards, as an Altoona native, he wanted to stay closer to home. Dr. David Ambrose at Geisinger Gray’s Woods then started over seeing Ron’s care back in 2016.

“At this point we found out that the electrical system of his heart was completely blocked, meaning the top part of his heart was not communicating with the bottom part of his heart. Again, he felt horrible. Just completely tired, so we hospitalized his again where we then put in a pacemaker to help his heart function normally and get him feeling better.”

He says it was like a one stop shop for anything he would need for heart care.

“Were able to see patients with our cardiologist we have the capabilities to put in pacemakers, stress testing, cardiograms, and electrical procedures on the heart as well.”

He monitors his condition regularly and because of this Ron says he is grateful.

“I appreciate everything they do and that they have done for me.”
“It’s my pleasure it really is…”
“You saved my life so many times.”

After years of challenges Ron has faced due to his heart abnormalities, once the pandemic hit, and more information became available about what kind of adverse effects the virus has on cardiovascular patients, Dr. Ambrose and the Geisinger staff had to be even more careful when caring for patients.

“Most of our patients with heart problems are at higher risk for having poor outcomes if they develop COVID-19, so first and foremost, prevention is key. Should you develop COVID then your heart should be checked out. COVID can weaken then heart and could potentially in very rare and extreme situations lead to death.”

For more information on how the heart is affected by COVID-19 you can head on over to the CDC, or Americanheartassociation.com

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