Heart problems are rising! Here’s how Covid-19 can impact your cardiovascular health

Covid-19 has affected people's mental, emotional and physical health. Let's understand Covid-19 impact on your heart.
Be careful when it comes to your heart health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr G. R. Kane Published on: 14 October 2022, 10:15 am IST
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Covid-19 is a spectrum disease with a wide range of symptoms, ranging from asymptomatic infection to life-threatening illness. While lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome emerged as the most feared Covid-19 complications, heart damage has recently emerged as yet another dangerous outcome in the virus’ repertoire of possible outcomes. That’s why we are here to discuss the Covid-19 impact on the heart.

Covid-19 impact on heart

Data underlined from research and observations during the pandemic indicated the Covid-19 virus had an effect on the heart in hospitalized patients, those with mild cases of the disease, and people with no prior heart-related conditions. According to information obtained through an RTI (Right to Information) filed by activist Chetan Kothari, nearly 23.8 percent (17,880) of the total 75,165 deaths recorded in Mumbai up to June last year were attributed to heart attacks, as the city saw a six-fold increase in deaths related to heart attacks during the first six months of 2021, which was the second wave of Covid-19. Whether the individual had a severe or mild case of Covid-19, these heart-related issues may persist long after the illness has passed.

Also, read: Will there be a new surge in Covid-19 cases post festivals? Here’s what experts predict

Covid-19 is a leading cause behind increasing the heart diseases

Doctors observed an increase in heart attacks during and immediately following the Covid-19 period. This is because the virus appears to be creating conditions that aggravate clotting and blockages in the pulmonary artery, resulting in heart attacks. The virus has been shown to directly affect the heart, causing myocarditis.

Take good care of yourself to recover faster from Covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium, the middle layer of the heart muscle wall. It is uncommon and is usually caused by a viral infection. Myocarditis weakens both the heart muscle and the electrical system that keeps the heart pumping normally. As a result, the heart’s pumping capacity is reduced. It is believed that Covid-19 virus’s hyperinflammation can result in clot formation in any part of the body. This in turn can affect blood vessels impacting other organs.

Impact of Covid-19 on children

Children who become ill with the coronavirus do not have as many serious complications as adults. However, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children, or MIS-C, is a rare but serious complication of Covid-19 that can cause serious heart damage, cardiogenic shock, or death. The condition is usually presented within 2-4 weeks post Covid-19 infection. Children who survive MIS-C may develop abnormal heart rhythms and stiffened heart muscles, preventing the heart from relaxing and beating normally.

Also, read: Suffering from chest pain after Covid-19 recovery? Here’s what to do

The lockdown lifestyle or sedentary lifestyle affects your heart

The sedentary lifestyle that increased manifold due to Covid-19 pandemic also played a significant role in its impact on heart health. Social isolation, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and depression linked to the pandemic had a significant impact on lifestyle changes, emotional well-being, and mood disorders that potentially influencing food preferences. Increase in unhealthy eating habits and a decrease in physical activity on account of Covid-19 induced lockdown led to weight increase, obesity and cholesterol buildup in the blood vessels, which in turn raised the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

After recovering from Covid-19, take a good care of yours Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Long term impact of Covid-19

When it comes to the long-term, Covid-19‘s cardiovascular effects are yet to be ascertained. However, it is definitely a matter of grave concern among healthcare professionals globally given that there are patients who haven’t had pre-existing cardiac issues, who are complaining of exercise intolerance, and other symptoms that could be cardiac related.

Be aware of the symptoms of deteriorating heart health

Lack of knowledge of symptoms that could be warning signs is essential to understanding one’s condition and taking prompt action to prevent a tragic outcome. It is impossible to link all abrupt cardiac arrests or deaths to just excessive cholesterol or a heart attack. It’s important to recognize symptoms like inexplicable fainting, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate at frequent intervals, needless perspiration, numbness in the legs, and even persistent back discomfort. In case any of the above symptoms are experienced, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

About the Author
Dr G. R. Kane

Dr G. R. Kane, Consultant Cardiologist, P.D. Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mahim, Mumbai

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