Winning the battle against COVID-19 for an infected patient is like having a second life. No matter how mild or severe cases are, healing from this infectious virus is overwhelming. However, according to recent studies, the virus does some amount of damage to people’s lives even after complete cure. Scientists and doctors are researching on ways the virus can infect various body parts like the lungs, heart, and more. Here, we will discuss how our heart health deteriorates after recovering from the coronavirus.
How coronavirus might be affecting our heart health
As of now, the coronavirus has shown to create havoc with one’s respiratory systems. In severe cases, people need oxygen immediately as breathlessness is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. However, the relationship between coronavirus and our heart health is rather complex compared to lung health.
As we’re six months into the pandemic, several cases have shown that the coronavirus can not only make current heart problems critical for patients. It can also cause new ones. The studies have made the experts question if the cardiac impacts of the virus outlast the infection itself or not. While researchers haven’t come to a conclusion, heart problems followed by coronavirus infection have started spiking in New York City.
Dr. Janet Shapiro, a physician who works towards critical care had symptoms of coronavirus but was diagnosed with heart disease. The doctor reported of having a feeling of heart racing, and breathlessness. She said she wasn’t being able to be as active as she used to. Her reports showed cardiomyopathy – a condition where our heart struggles to pump blood.
Dr. Shoeb Sitafalwalla, who is a cardiologist with Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois said that doctors are still learning about the coronavirus disease. He said that within six months, doctors have gathered immense knowledge of how the virus can affect the heart during an acute infection. He also added that they have a lot to learn and understand the long-term impact of the virus.
Reports from places across the world
In February, researchers in China found out that people who have heart conditions are likely to die from the infection. CDC China reported the death rate is four times the average population.
When the virus started spreading in Italy, the people with heart risk was seen to be at double the risk compared to ones with healthy hearts. There was a spike in the risk of septic shock and blood clots.
A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported that 10% to 15% of people who died from coronavirus previously had a heart condition. Meanwhile, CDC sent out guidance that people with heart conditions have an increased risk of severe illnesses and probable chances of death from coronavirus.
How coronavirus can affect a healthy heart?
The probability of having a condition and finding it aggravate due to infection wasn’t surprising. However, what doctors have found out now has left them puzzled. Young and healthy patients with no history of heart diseases have shown a spike of coronavirus. Studies show that the virus takes a toll on the heart and can leave a healthy person weak even after recovery.
Given the recent updates on safety in sports, experts say that athletes who were victims of coronavirus, especially if severe, need to evaluate further risk. They might not be allowed to play sports again as it can lead to a viral inflammation of their heart leading to cardiac death. Kids and parents have to consider safety guidelines for the same.
As scientists are researching with the cells of coronavirus patients, they have found that around 10% to 30% of people have molecular evidence of new cardiac injury. The study was done and published in a journal by the American Medical Association. However, doctors also mentioned that even though the patients are vulnerable, there isn’t always a possibility of a heart disaster.
Dr. Sean Wu, a cardiologist at Stanford Health said that the possible risk of cardiac injury is not tremendous. He said that people who do develop laboratory abnormalities don’t always end up having heart issues. He differentiated the effects of the virus with other viruses and said that there are more ones like Coxsackie B3 that affect the heart. Coxsackie B3 can lead to an inflammation of the heart muscles and cause myocarditis that stays for months or years.
Reports according to patients who lost their lives to COVID-19
Autopsy reports of people who died from coronavirus deepen the confusion around it. Medical examiners from New York City reported that their reports were consistent with the reports of SARS-CoV-2. The condition of liver, lung, and kidney damage is similar to SARS-CoV-2. However, there was little evidence related to heart damage.
The study, however, doesn’t mean that recovery from the virus means the full recovery of the heart. Dr. Raul Mitrani a cardiologist from a University of Miami warned about this. He reported the personal experience to guide on how coronavirus might lead to abnormal heart rhythms. More experts like him are speculating about the long-term heart damage that can lead to unexpected health conditions. There is a potential of scar tissue accumulation highlighted as the post coronavirus cardiac syndrome. It is an important part of future research. Mitrani said that they have developed a Cardiac Clinic for patients who have recovered from coronavirus in order to monitor residual heart conditions.
Many experts also said that it is too early to report if heart damages will be severe after COVID-19. Dr. Sean Wu stated that they need to have longer-term data in order to monitor people of having a myocardial injury. Patients need to go through constant follow-ups for such cardiac manifestations. Further, he added that we’re still in an order stage to find out how this will end up for heart health.