• March 18th, 2020

Coronavirus Advice - Paediatric Patient Advice (CHD)

In light of the coronavirus pandemic we are regularly reviewing how we work in the Paediatric Cardiology service in Leeds. Our goal is to keep the service running for those who need it whilst keeping our well patients as safe as possible.

The following incorporates guidance from the government and other sources such as the British Congenital Cardiac Association, and we will continue to update as the situation develops.

While it is expected that many people will catch the virus over the next few weeks to months, the risk of becoming unwell as a result is low, particularly for children and younger adults. We do not yet know whether patients with an underlying congenital heart condition will be at any greater risk from the virus.

If you, your child or a member of your household think you may have coronarvirus

Symptoms that indicate possible coronavirus are a new continuous cough and / or a high temperature. If you, your child or another member of your household have either of these symptoms it is important to follow the national guidance on self-isolation, available here.

If symptoms are serious, and cannot be managed at home, visit NHS 111 online (but only call NHS111 if you cannot get online).

If your child is admitted to hospital inform the paediatric cardiology specialist nurses (0113 392 5467, email) who will discuss your case with the paediatric cardiologist on call.

If your child develops symptoms consistent with having the virus they should continue any medicines that they take regularly for their heart, because if they are stopped there is a risk of deterioration of their heart condition.

Ibuprofen should not be used to aid symptoms if coronavirus infection is suspected. Paracetamol can be used.

Is your child at increased risk from coronavirus?

The government has stated that patients with ‘chronic heart disease’ are likely to be at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Whilst technically all children with heart problems have ‘chronic heart disease’, most are at no greater risk than the general population and the general government recommendations should be followed website here specifically the sections ‘What is Social Distancing’ and ‘Handwashing and Respiratory Hygiene.’

We do not yet know if children with more severe forms of congenital heart disease are at greater risk of becoming unwell from the virus, although there is no suggestion yet from other countries that they are.

Nevertheless, it seems possible that such children might be more at risk of becoming unwell, including patients:

With a single ventricle, Fontan circulation or Glenn shunt

Who have cyanosis (low blood oxygen levels)

Who have heart failure / cardiomyopathy requiring medication

Who take regular medicines to improve heart function

With pulmonary hypertension or Eisenmenger syndrome

With tetralogy of Fallot, an atrioventricular septal defect or a large ventricular septal defect that has not yet been operated on

With Di George syndrome if the immune system is affected

For these children it may be sensible to make particular effort to avoid getting the virus by following the guidance on social distancing referred to above.

Outpatient clinics

Currently, we are continuing to run outpatient clinics in Leeds and other hospitals in the region. However, consultants are reviewing individual cases and will decide whether consultations can be performed by telephone or video. We will be in touch if this applies to your child, otherwise please attend in person.

The high risk outpatient service will continue as normal through this period.

If you or your child are well but have other symptoms consistent with a viral infection, such as a runny nose, it will likely be sensible to delay and rebook a clinic appointment. Please contact our clinic clerks on 0113 392 2619.

Planned operations and catheter procedures

The capacity to perform cardiac surgery in Leeds is already reduced and the main focus is on performing urgent operations. We intend to maintain this service throughout the months to come.

For now, we are able to continue to perform elective keyhole procedures though some will need to be rescheduled. We will call patients the day before the planned procedure to enquire as to whether you or any household contacts have any symptoms that might mean we should reschedule.

It is likely that the catheter service will also need to prioritise urgent cases soon and we apologise for any delay in you receiving treatment.

If your child’s condition changes or they develop new cardiac symptoms you should contact the cardiac specialist nurses in the usual way.

We intend to run an acute daily outpatient service during this period to see any children whose care has been delayed and where there are parental concerns regarding their cardiac condition.

Updated 18/03/2020