Although we won’t fully understand the effects of COVID-19 on our health for a long time, it is obvious that for many people, symptoms are severe and may even last for months or even years.
Your cardiovascular system is one of the key things that COVID-19 may impact. The coronavirus and long-term COVID-19 can cause everything from minor troubles that go away on their own to serious cardiac problems, according to research and the day-to-day work of clinicians. It is unknown why the latter occurs in certain persons.
“It is uncertain how COVID specifically affects the heart. Increased inflammation in the heart and arteries is one of the potential theories. Low oxygen levels might potentially be a factor, according to Dr. Jim Liu, a cardiologist at the Wexner Medical Centre of Ohio State University.
Although the reason why this happens is unknown, it is undeniable that it does. The effect a COVID-19 infection can have on your heart is described here, along with precautions you can take and protect yourself.
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As per Doctors, most COVID infections don’t result in cardiac problems, but certain groups are more at risk.
Dr. Allison Zielinski, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois, said: “Thankfully, the more serious problems are exceedingly uncommon in moderate illness and previously healthy persons.
However, she continued, “The risk of these complications increases with severe disease, especially if hospitalized or incubated.” Hospitalized patients who do encounter these adverse effects will also be evaluated and monitored by their doctor.
According to Zielinski, those who are older, immunosuppressed, and have a history of cardiovascular disease, as well as those with other medical disorders including high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are also at a higher risk.
The variety of symptoms is wide for people who have cardiac problems during or after a COVID-19 infection. These are the cardiovascular issues that people encounter.
People with severe COVID-19 infections might occasionally experience arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats, according to Liu.
Myocarditis can also be accompanied by arrhythmias, some of which can make the heart beat so quickly that it cannot adequately pump blood and are deadly if left untreated, according to the expert.
Myocarditis and pericarditis are two common consequences, according to Zielinski. Myocarditis is an infection of the heart muscle itself.
Despite how terrifying this sounds, myocarditis typically goes away without any lasting effects, according to Liu. Myocarditis “can lead to heart failure in the most severe cases, where the heart is unable to pump efficiently,” according to Liu.
POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, often known as POTS, is the most significant cardiovascular repercussion of having a lengthy COVID, according to Dr. Martha Gulati, director of preventive cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in California.
When you move from lying down to standing up, POTS, a condition, can cause exhaustion, an elevated heart rate, and dizziness, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
According to Gulati, POTS is more prevalent among women, and while some people do heal on their own, symptoms often persist for a long time. Additionally, there are things that doctors may do to treat the illness, although not everyone responds well to these management strategies.
Heart attack complications
According to a study conducted by Gulati and other Cedars-Sinai researchers, those who had COVID-19 at the time of a heart attack were more likely to pass away.
“We saw that they had a higher hospital mortality, almost three times more likely to die in that hospitalization than somebody who was just having a heart attack without COVID,” said Gulati.
Additionally, recipients of hemodialysis and those who required a ventilator were more likely to have a COVID-19 infection and a heart attack. Gulati said that it was a bit of a chicken or egg situation when asked why.
Do they have a heart attack and COVID just so happened to be there, or do they have COVID and have a heart attack? Unfortunately, we are unable to identify which one from our database. We only know that [at the time of the heart attack] they were COVID-positive.
Gulati pointed out that COVID-19’s respiratory side effects might strain the heart.
“There’s a chance that just having COVID, there was a greater chance of developing a [heart attack],” she said. “However, Additionally, there were disparities: the study indicated that Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander individuals had worse outcomes and got inferior quality treatment.
“The increased mortality, increased complications, disparity in our approach to caring for patients, just highlighted a lot of the things that we knew exist within our cardiology community even pre-pandemic, but certainly the pandemic just [highlighted] the disparities in our care in a very profound way,” Gulati said.
It is a little challenging with this study when we’re looking at big data from across the entire country.”
Long COVID can also cause a variety of other cardiac problems.
Zielinski says that those with lengthy COVID-19 may experience some of the same problems as those listed above.
These outcomes can be divided into two groups. The first category is cardiovascular illness, which includes conditions like myocarditis and pericarditis that are identified by objective abnormalities on cardiac tests, according to Zielinski.
Cardiovascular symptoms fall within the second group, she added. Because these symptoms “don’t have any clear objective abnormalities on testing but still affect patients,” Zielinski added, “healthcare providers may dismiss them.”
Heart palpitations, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, an increased heart rate, an intolerance to exercise, and exercise intolerance are typical long COVID cardiovascular symptoms, according to the expert.
Long COVID is at risk for the same characteristics Zielinski listed above, but the illness may also strike seemingly at random, according to the expert.
“Many of the people that experience these symptoms may have only had a mild infection and may have been previously healthy and active,” she said.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states that 6% of people are thought to have long-term COVID. Additionally, Zielinski noted that only a small percentage of those with lengthy COVID may get cardiovascular symptoms. However, if you experience any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms following a COVID-19 infection, you should speak with your doctor to find out what is wrong.
You may safeguard your heart by taking preventative precautions.
Maintaining your heart health can be a beneficial habit, even if there is no way to ensure that a COVID-19 or lengthy COVID-19 infection won’t have any negative effects on your cardiovascular system.
You are more likely to get severe COVID-19 infections and adverse cardiovascular outcomes if you have certain cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. To be as prepared as possible for any infection that may arise, Gulati advised prioritizing your heart health.
The American Heart Association lists several obvious strategies to do this, including eating meals that include lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, exercising for two and a half hours each week, controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, and stopping smoking.
“An infection is a stress to the heart, so the more we can keep our hearts healthy, I think the better we are equipped to face any illness,” Gulati added.