Pfizer_EPISODE 3
Dr Salwa Elkholy, a specialist cardiologist

The third episode of the ongoing vodcast series Know Plan Go: Protect Yourself from Respiratory Infections by Gulf News in partnership with Pfizer delves into the intricate relationship between heart health and susceptibility to severe viral respiratory infections. Heart disease, a global health concern highlighted by the World Health Organization, claims approximately 17.9 million lives annually. Its impact on the severity and outcomes of viral respiratory infections cannot be understated.

In this episode, Dr Salwa Elkholy, a specialist cardiologist with 20 years of expertise in non-invasive and clinical cardiology, offers insights into the diverse spectrum of heart diseases, including conditions affecting the heart muscle, valves, coronary arteries, and the heart’s electrical system. She describes the reasons behind complications in various parts of the body, such as the brain, emphasising the intricate connections between heart disease and broader health concerns.

Dr Elkholy explains how viral respiratory infections can directly or indirectly affect the heart, causing myocarditis, pericarditis, or endocarditis. “Respiratory diseases can affect the heart in many ways, either directly or indirectly. The direct effect on the heart is rare, but it can happen when the cells of the heart can get inflamed and cause myocarditis,” she says.

Pointing out that individuals with pre-existing heart conditions face a higher risk of hospitalisation or severe complications from respiratory infections compared to those without such conditions, Dr Elkholy says individuals aware of their heart disease must take specific steps when experiencing symptoms of a viral respiratory infection to safeguard their health and mitigate potential complications.

Dr Elkholy also highlights the significance of seeking immediate medical attention and getting tested upon the onset of flu-like symptoms for those with heart disease. She also discusses the various risk factors associated with heart disease, distinguishing between modifiable factors like lifestyle choices and non-modifiable factors such as age and family history. The critical importance of lifestyle modifications and adherence to guidelines to manage these risks effectively are also touched upon in this episode.

For further insights on managing viral respiratory infection risks for individuals with cardiovascular conditions, visit