Table of Contents
- Coronavirus and Heart Damage: An Overview
- Heart Damage By Coronavirus: Virus Itself or Byproduct of Body’s Reaction
- How the Coronavirus Can Add to Heart Damage?
- Can Coronavirus Directly Cause Heart Attack: What Study Finds
- Impact of Coronavirus on Cardiovascular Disease: What Researches Suggest
- People with preexisting health conditions – like heart, lung problems or diabetes – can come under the gamut of coronavirus damage.
- According to some study, the patients who tasted death from the coronavirus with heart distress constituted 10% of the overall rate.
- The reason being, the coronavirus can directly pollute the heart and can deactivate the functions of heart muscle and consequently leads to heart failure.
While respiratory problems take the center stage of the Coronavirus pandemic and securing sufficient mechanical ventilators is the call of the day, doctors, fighting close with the patients, are unraveling new medical secrets on the implication of COVID-19.
Coronavirus primarily disturbs our lungs. However, this virus is waging another battlefield within our body, as cases of heart distress have been gradually reported by doctors. Besides lung injury, in many COVID-19 patients heart problems are also seen. And which ultimately leads them to cardiac arrest.
In the lung of the human body lies tiny air sacs. When a person catches the coronavirus, the virus starts inflaming and blocking that tiny air sacs. And eventually leads to limiting the body’s oxygen supply until our body’s vital organs become inactive.
Till April 20, people who taste death from COVID-19, among other health complications cardiovascular disease has been ranked 5 out of top 10 in New York. High blood pressure tops the list. High cholesterol ranks third followed by heart disease. Stroke and atrial fibrillation also enter into that list to make it look alarming.
However, Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, and a member of the American College of Cardiology’s COVID-19 Response Work Group, is still skeptical about the impact this virus can make for people with heart complications.
“By and large, I would say that if you have multiple chronic health conditions, or you have obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, it’s possible that you could be at higher risk. But we’re also seeing young relatively healthy people getting sick and even dying from this. So I don’t think we have a clear sense just yet of what makes somebody higher risk or not.”
The burning question that floating around is as to whether the coronavirus plays any role in developing the heart distresses. Or these heart problems are a byproduct of our body’s response to the damage this coronavirus causes. Still this is an unsolved mystery as scientists are trying to understand the nature of the coronavirus.
Besides, defining how the coronavirus runs riot in our heart is not easy at all, as any other health complications can cause misery to heart health.
“Someone who’s dying from a bad pneumonia will ultimately die because the heart stops. You can’t get enough oxygen into your system and things go haywire.”
Said Dr. Robert Bonow, a professor of cardiology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
However, Bonow and other cardiac experts beg to differ with that theory. And they believe that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart in several ways. They opined some patients may get affected by more than one of those ways on one occasion.
Bonow suggests that the death caused by COVID-19 could be the result of direct involvement of the virus in heart muscle. As per initial research, the coronavirus has been found in some receptors in lungs. Interestingly, scientists found the existence of the same receptors in the heart muscle too.
As per Harvard Medical School (HMV) scientists who are also practicing cardiologists, the ways coronavirus can induce cardiac arrest are not new and not surprising either. However, the mystery part that yet to be solved is whether this coronavirus is more infectious concerning the heart than other counterparts.
The specialist at HMV opined that this COVID-19 can cause heart complications in many ways. Some of those ways are described below:
People with Preexisting Heart Disease
First off, people who already have heart distress fall into the pole of developing severe cardiovascular and breathing problems from this coronavirus. Sounds nothing new. Research has found that people with heart complications are more vulnerable to influenza virus infection than without cardiac distress. Studies also reveal that respiratory infections like the flu can lead to heart attacks.
People with Previously Undiagnosed Heart Disease
Secondly, some people may have heart disease earlier but they did not discover it due to absence of proper diagnosis. This coronavirus may activate those previously inactive cardiac symptoms. Three things can threaten formerly inactive fatty panels inside the heart vessels. They are fever, infection and inflammation and thus pose a great threat to people with preexisting heart-vessel jam.
Especially, fever and inflammation can assist the blood clotting process faster. They can also hamper our body’s capacity to melt those clots.
“It’s like one big stress test for the heart,”
Said Ridker, who is the Eugene Braunwald Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
People with No Symptoms of Classic Heart Attacks
Third, this reason may be more pertinent to COVID-19. Some may experience pain in their heart that may look like a heart attack. But they are actually not as in these cases their blood vessels lack two important elements to classify it as typical heart attack – fatty plaques and mild blockages.
This situation, termed myocardial infarction type 2, induces when our heart vessels go hungry for oxygen. This scenario, in the case of COVID-19, can initiate if our heart muscle finds any discrepancy between oxygen supply and demand.
Fever and inflammation, the two major enemies of heart disease, can speed up heart rate and can accelerate metabolic loads on numerous organs, comprising the heart. That hassle is exacerbated if the lungs get ill and eventually lose the capacity to trade oxygen and carbon dioxide ideally. This reduced gas trade can further decrease oxygen amount to the heart vessels.
Finally, there may be a group of people who are healthy earlier and with no underlying heart complications. People from this group can directly affect their heart by the coronavirus as a result of fiery inflammation that heart vessels may go through.
“We’re seeing cases of people who don’t have an underlying heart disease who are getting heart damage.”
Said Dr. Erin Michos, the associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
However, a recent study takes place in Italy to find out the direct relation between coronavirus and heart attack. The findings put weight behind the concept that the coronavirus can directly pollute the heart and can deactivate the functions of heart muscle and consequently leads to heart failure.
“If the heart muscle is inflamed and damaged by the virus, the heart can’t function,”
Dr. Michos said.
The study also observed that healthy adults are not immune to these severe conditions even after the critical stage of the infection subsides. And even if they do not experience lung injury.
“There are definitely some people who develop acute fulminant myocarditis—in which the virus infects the heart muscle itself or the cells within the heart—and causes a horrible inflammatory reaction. This can be life threatening, and it can happen in people who don’t have any preexisting risk factors.”
Said Libby, who is also the Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In an experiment conducted on 190 COVID-19 patients in Wuhan revealed that out of that number 8% of patients have heart complications.
As per data from the National Health Commission of China, patients who tasted death from the coronavirus 35% bore high blood pressure. Whereas the percentage for patients with cardiovascular disease went down to 17%. This finding suggests that heart complication can pose a serious threat to people with coronavirus infection.
Moreover, another two researches conducted in China in March gave us a clear idea about how COVID-19 patients fare with prevailing heart problems. One study took a larger sample size with 415 patients from different hospitals. The experts came to learn that 20% out of those patients displayed signs of heart distress. And patients with heart problems later fell prey to death more than those who didn’t have those complications. The statistics went like the following: 51% patients with heart problems died, whereas only 4% without this predicament died.
It is an established fact that the coronavirus affects the people most who have underlying health conditions. Heart disease is considered to be one of those conditions. The death rate of COVID-19 for people with heart disease constitutes not less than 10%. Besides, some research suggests that the coronavirus can directly affect our heart muscle and can lead to heart failure. While some other experts opined that the death from health complications can be caused as a by-product of our body’s reaction to this virus.