LONDON, ONT -- Living with heart disease or stroke is never easy, but add on top of that a global pandemic that further threatens your life, it is easy to understand why those with heart disease are feeling extremely vulnerable.

According to a new survey from Heart and Stroke found the majority of those living with heart disease or stroke have experienced changing or worsening symptoms since the pandemic began and that contracting COVID-19 is a major concern.

About one in seven people reported worsening symptoms, while 75 per cent of those polled said contracting COVID-19 was a major concern.

The same goes for caregivers, with 75 per cent also worrying about contracting the virus.

One of the biggest concerns amongst those living with heart disease was the prospect of potentially having to go to hospital.

That is where virtual care has stepped up to provide some much-needed support.

“Heart & Stroke is working collaboratively with many healthcare groups to support people with our conditions through the pandemic,” said Heart & Stroke’s director Patrice Lindsay.

The survey found that the health system has responded strongly with virtual care, which takes away some of the worry and fear of hospital settings.

About half of those polled said they rated their virtual appointments as being as good as in person.

Even better was that 80 per cent reported the experience as being convenient and felt that their concerns were heard.

Since the pandemic broke out, Heart & Stroke has created a public guide for engaging in effective and efficient virtual healthcare sessions.

Approximately 1200 people in Canada took the COVID-19 Heart & Stroke Impact survey online between May 8 and May 31, 2020. A total of 1052 people fully completed the survey, 804 people with conditions, and 248 caregivers.