No Delays for Lungs Diseases Appointments

National Heart Institute’s (IJN) Consultant Pulmonologist, Dr. Ashari Yunus

BusinessToday speaks to National Heart Institute’s (IJN) Consultant Pulmonologist, Dr. Ashari Yunus to talk about the relationship between lung diseases and Covid-19. He shares about the potential effects of it and how patients should not worry to consult a doctor on early symptoms.

“When patients have underlying lung problems and Covid-19, like asthma, the diseases will become worse. However, with treatments and regular follow-ups, patients will recover from Covid-19 but complications from the virus will still be prevalent.

For example, asthmatic patients’ lungs are already damaged and following that the Covid-19 virus infects the other parts of the lungs to be damaged and as a result, the lungs become wet.

One of the treatments for the complications is using steroids to medicate the infected parts. Unfortunately, the patients must continuously come for follow-ups even after recovery for steroid injections,” he says.

“Most people infected with the Covid-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness,” Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says on WHO’s website.

In a commentary on John Hopkins Medicine’s website, Dr. Panagis Galiastatos of John Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre says that Covid-19 also can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.

Road to Recovery

With the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme has started on February 24.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has approved three more vaccines to be used in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme which are AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, and Pfizer’s COMIRNATY with strict regulations by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA).

“We also see a few patients who have both lung-related diseases and Covid-19. There is hope for those who are infected by both chronic diseases but, they cannot miss any follow-up treatments and do not delay any of the given appointments.

As I said previously, the complication will always be there even after recovery. But do not be shy to get treatments in the first place and do the follow-ups. We always encourage our staffs to welcome any patients who are experiencing these issues because we want to help,” Dr. Ashari highlights.

One of the prominent lung-related diseases that are made worse by Covid-19 is asthma.

A study made by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) shows that asthma is more common in children and adults with mild to severe Covid-19 than previously reported in Asia and Europe, but the prevalence is not higher than that described in the same population.

Their research was based on the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the CDC indicates that people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from Covid-19.

IJN has taken adequate measures to prepare the medical institute to face the outbreak. The first step was to set up a Covid-19 internal data centre to track all patients and health care professionals within IJN on possible exposure to the infection.

Secondly, adequate measures were taken to create special isolation rooms for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. Additionally, recently admitted patients also stayed in designated isolation wards and were transferred to normal wards after testing negative for Covid-19.

Lastly, IJN has set up a dedicated team to educate and advise the patients who have recovered from Covid-19. The team is made up of multidisciplinary specialists and Dr. Ashari is the specialist for Covid-19 patients who have a history of lung diseases.

“Please get your vaccinations even if you have not been infected by the virus, that is my advice on the Covid-19 outbreak. Vaccinate yearly and get them every five years even to get the body immunised from the virus.

If you have any symptoms, please do come to the hospital for a check-up, we will gladly do our best to treat the patients,” Dr. Ashari concludes.

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