Though the majority of patients develop pulmonary complications, COVID-19 is also associated with several life-threatening heart complications
Heart failure and arrhythmia are two important complications seen frequently in COVID-19 patients
Old age and previous history of heart disease are the major risk factors
Today, several research studies focus on the pulmonary complications of COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 infection develops into a spectrum of disease that ranges from asymptomatic and mild symptoms to critical and life-threatening illnesses. The majority of COVID-19 patients are either asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms. The severe form of the disease develops in patients with underlying comorbidities. It is associated with several life-threatening complications. Although there is limited evidence regarding the heart complications in patients with COVID-19, research studies demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 significantly impacts a COVID-19 patient’s cardiovascular health. Patients with a previous history of Chronic Heart Failure, Hypertension, Coronary artery disease, Diabetes Mellitus, and smoking are at higher risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 infection and developing cardiac complications. According to a Wuhan study, 23% of the COVID-19 patients had developed cardiac complications.
Coronavirus-related Cardiac Problems
The exact pathogenesis of cardiovascular complications associated with COVID-19 is unclear. However, it is believed to be either due to direct viral health injury or decreased heart function due to increased systemic inflammatory response to infection. The virus enters the endothelial cells by binding to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors present in the lungs, heart, and endothelial cells of other organs.
Two major cardiac problems related to COVID-19 are Heart Failure and Arrhythmias or irregular heart beat.
Heart failure: Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle cannot pump out enough blood to the body. It takes place as an exacerbation of underlying heart disease or worsening heart failure in patients with pre-existing heart failure. In older patients, heart failure may occur secondary to previous myocardial infarction or hypertension. Similarly, in younger patients, it develops secondary to myocarditis caused by the virus. The patients develop both de novo acute heart failure and acute decompensation of chronic heart failure.
Arrhythmias: Clinical evidence suggests that it is the earliest clinical manifestation of COVID-19. Arrhythmias are seen frequently in ICU patients. A study showed that 51 out of 85 patients developed arrhythmias and two among them died from malignant arrhythmia. Many factors cause arrhythmia in COVID-19 patients. These conditions include hypoxia, electrolyte imbalance, antiviral drug side effects, cytokine storm, and direct viral injury. Different types of arrhythmias are associated with COVID-19. It can lead to life-threatening complications like heart failure, sudden cardiac death, worsening arrhythmias, and stroke.
Other factors: Other cardiac complications associated with COVID-19 are Cardiac arrest, Cardiogenic shock, Myocarditis, Pericarditis, Myocardial infarction, and Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. All of these complications are associated with significant mortality and morbidity. Chest pain, breathing difficulty, palpitations, fatigue, peripheral edema, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diaphoresis are symptoms of heart diseases that require thorough evaluation and prompt treatment. If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider or call 911 immediately.
Until the FDA approves a COVID-9 vaccine, you should take steps to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors. Practice hand hygiene regularly, maintain social distancing and avoid going out (as much as you can). Other habits you should imbibe include the following: Eat a healthy balanced diet, and maintain moderate physical activity. Indeed, these are the precautions to be followed in elderly people with known heart disease or hypertension to prevent both the SARS-CoV-2 infection and its cardiac complications. While Covid-19 is contagious and deadly, the best bet is adhering to the aforementioned measures to stay alive. You mean the world to someone. Therefore, you must take responsibility for your safety today to avert contracting the deadly virus.