COVID-19 has upended lives in huge proportions. Globally, over 16.7 million infection cases have been recorded. It has been considered to be the most deadly for those belonging to a high-risk category or those with co-morbidities. While the virus starts attacking the body as a respiratory infection, it can also be seen to attack the nervous system, start off a deadly cytokine storm, affect the digestive system and even affect the brain.
Now, newer research has shown that the long-term consequences of COVID-19 can be far more dangerous, with diagnosed patients reporting problems of serious heart problems.
A sample study done by JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), Cardiology examined MRI results of 100 COVID+ patients based out of Frankfurt, Germany, who were studied between the months of April-June. All the patients in the study were considered to be healthy between the ages of 40-50 and had made successful recoveries from the infection.
Out of these 100, 67 patients, who suffered from asymptomatic and moderate symptoms recovered at home, while the rest of the 23 participants underwent hospitalization.
Researchers used a variety of tools, including MRI, blood tests and heart tissue biopsy to study the effect of the COVID-19 on the heart. The observations were compared to a group of 50 healthy volunteers and 57 who were at risk.
It was observed that 78 out of the 100 patients diagnosed with the infection reported symptoms of heart damage and inflammation. The fact that such a big percentage of people recorded symptoms of bad heart health pointed out to the evidence that there’s a lot that we still don’t know about the infections’ long-term consequences, especially those related to the vital organs. Lead researchers Clyde W. Yancy, MD and Gregg C. Fonarow, MD said that as the infection rates peak and get worse, the symptoms and side-effects are only getting worse:
“We are inclined to raise a new and very evident concern that cardiomyopathy and heart failure related to COVID-19 may potentially evolve as the natural history of this infection becomes clearer.”
The study also showed that regardless of pre-existing conditions, the severity of the infection, diagnosis or time taken to recovery (TTR), all participants suffered from some sort of heart complications.
Interestingly, another study done out of a UK-based institution found out of a similar pattern in patients who were infected with the virus. Observatory data from research done on 1216 COVID patients across 6 continents found a pattern of heart abnormalities and disruptions. Out of those studied, 15% showed “severe” abnormalities, despite never having a history of cardiac complications
While these are preliminary findings from the study, a lot still remains unknown regarding the long-term repercussions of the SARS-COV-2 virus. Scientists are still trying to figure out if the symptoms related to bad heart health exist temporarily or persist for a longer period of time. Considering the age group (40-50) who were closely observed, the examination may also explain as to why coronavirus can prove to be so deadly for those belonging to high-risk categories, elderlies or those with underlying issues.
Even though heart complications often arise due to genes or other lifestyle risks, a rise in inflammation and apparent fluid build-up in the lungs and the respiratory cavity can also lead to heart problems. When the body is attacked by a virus as deadly as SARS-COV-2, it disrupts regular oxygen flow in the body and makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the organs. The added stress and weakening of tissues around the vital organ can consequently, make a person prone to heart problems.
In many ways, the acute inflammatory response fuelled by the virus can also complicated matters. Acute inflammation could obstruct arteries, cause blood clots, which contribute to reduced heart function. It can also so happen that people with rapid heartbeats could observe heart muscle weakening, which can cause damage to the heart. Hence, there are multiple ways COVID infection could disrupt healthy heart functioning.
Some of the most common and primary symptoms of any coronary artery disease are chest pain, weakness, fatigue, excess sweating, shortness of breath. A more severe condition could also manifest as a stroke, arrhythmias or cardiac failure. All these symptoms should not be treated lightly and paid attention to at once.
The findings have also led experts to believe that conducting echocardiograms and using other scans which can diagnose problems with heart health may be important in all patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19. Consequently, it can also lead doctors to use altered treatments and medicines to attend to patients suffering from a severe form of coronavirus infection.
Source : Times Of India