When COVID-19 first started to spread in the United States, experts initially thought it was a virus that primarily impacted the lungs. Now, we know that the heart is greatly impacted, too.
“Not only have we seen complications in cardiovascular patients, but studies have also been done that show a greater number of COVID-19 patients developing heart complications,” explains board-certified cardiologist, Binu Jacob, MD.
Heart Damage in COVID-19 Patients
Some imaging tests taken months after a patient’s recovery from COVID-19 show lasting damage to the heart muscle — even in people who experienced only mild symptoms.
Even after recovering from COVID-19, complications may still arise. Coronavirus can make blood cells more likely to clump and form clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Who Is Most at Risk for COVID-19-Related Heart Damage?
Dr. Jacob explains that people who are most at risk of heart damage from COVID-19 include:
- Elderly patients
- Immune-compromised patients
- Obese patients
- Patients with significant underlying heart disease
“We have to be wary, because we’re seeing some cases that are not explicative of these underlying conditions. When it comes to COVID-19, we know that patients of all ages and activity levels can become very ill,” says Dr. Jacob.
Older patients and those with medical conditions tend to feel complications from COVID-19 more aggressively. But what does that mean for the heart?
Younger People Can Have COVID-19-Related Heart Issues, Too
According to Dr. Jacob even young, healthy patients are experiencing heart problems related to COVID-19, such as heart attacks.
Dr. Jacob shares, “those involved in cardiac health care working with critical care patients has seen an impact on their patients from COVID-19.”
There currently isn’t much information available regarding the risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular issues in COVID-19 patients, but Dr. Jacob says underlying heart disease can be a factor.
“When it comes to heart health and COVID-19, what’s most surprising to me is that patients’ responses are so varied,” Dr. Jacob explains. He adds, “A 100-year-old might handle COVID-19 just fine while a 40-year-old can die.”
Treating COVID-19 Patients with Heart Issues
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or could have been exposed to it, and are experiencing shortness of breath and fever, don’t hesitate to get emergency care. Dr. Jacob explains, “shortness of breath and fever are the two main symptoms that could lead to cardiovascular issues.”
COVID-19 patients who are having cardiovascular issues are treated based on their specific symptoms, but Dr. Jacob says the general treatment plan is two-fold: “Treat the virus itself and manage cardiovascular issues with standard advanced treatments.”
Learn More About Heart Care at AdventHealth Zephyrhills
Taking the best care of your heart and vascular health — from keeping it healthy to mending it — is what we do at AdventHealth. For more information on cardiovascular care, visit our website, or contact our Cardiology Nurse Navigator at Call813-779-6495. You deserve to feel whole.