COVID-19 and heart disease: There has been lots of talk of late regarding the lingering symptoms such as body pain, muscle ache, fatigue, loss of taste and sense of smell, palpitation for months following COVID-19 infection. These are some of the common ongoing symptoms in people who have been infected with COVID-19. The moment they test positive, the symptoms onset and continue for a long. Though long haulers have drawn much attention to the signs and symptoms associated with the respiratory system, lungs, and muscles, the growing concern is now the extent of the COVID-19 virus effects on the heart – which has so far not received the anticipated attention as such.
So far studies, though limited, indicate that
COVID-19 virus can attack the heart directly or indirectly. When it directly invades the heart muscles, it causes inflammation of the heart – myocarditis. In this condition, the pumping ability of the heart or its working capacity decreases making it susceptible to abnormal arrhythmias.
Symptoms associated with myocarditis
A majority of the patients are asymptomatic, while some patients may have just mild symptoms including breathing difficulty and chest pain. In some cases, mild chest discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and mild fatigue may be symptoms of myocarditis.
Cardiac Monitoring and Complete Evaluation is Important
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy (broken heart syndrome) can lead to arrhythmias, shock, low blood pressure, and congestive heart failure. This condition can sometimes prove life-threatening as it can cause severe heart muscle weakness resulting in potentially life-threatening arrhythmias and heart attack.
COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart by forming blood clots in the lungs or heart. Blood clots can cause significant strain on the heart and may lead to sudden heart attacks and death. Exaggerated immune response in the form of cytokine storm can cause damage to multiple organs including the heart as well.
COVID-19 and heart Disease: This is important to Everyone
The following reasons can be attributed to cardiac-related deaths in COVID-19 patients:
The risk of dying from a heart attack or sudden cardiac death increases two times in many people during the COVID-19 pandemic as many people are reluctant to go to the hospital to seek emergency medical care even after experiencing the symptoms of heart trouble.
The number one reason is that they assume those symptoms to be related to COVID-19 infection.
The second reason is the fear of the unknown or facing worse complications following a hospital visit.
Many people try very hard so that, at any cost, they should not land in the hospital. They do this over fears of contracting the virus.
Silent heart attacks go unnoticed owing to familiar and common less-serious symptoms.
Stress and lifestyle-related factors are increasing the risk of having heart attacks during the pandemic.
Unnoticed or undiagnosed heart attacks can cause potential long-term health issues and future more severe and life-threatening heart attacks.
The basic cardiac health check evaluation is important. Unless some critical steps are seriously taken in the evaluation of cardiac markers and ECG, and other necessary tests, the diagnosis can be missed. Within this critical window of opportunity – a comprehensive cardiac evaluation and monitoring can proceed to lessen the complications.
The need of the hour is to learn more about the varied effects of COVID-19 on cardiac health, remain alert to the symptoms, and act swiftly to mitigate the risk. What is important is the alertness pertaining to symptoms– particularly in those who have recently been diagnosed – and are recovering, but gradually developing fatigue, chest pain, and breathing difficulty.
For additional information on COVID-19 and Heart Disease, go through the following articles.