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Covid can cause permanent heart damage: Experts

by Pragati Singh

Even when the wave of Covid-19 infections fades, the devastating post-Covid syndrome continues to have a significant impact on people’s health. Covid’s effect on the heart has been a source of concern for patients, since recent research have shown that the virus’s effect on the heart can remain for at least a year or even longer after infection.

In a year following an acute infection, a research published in Nature Medicine indicated that the sickness raised the risk of cardiac rhythm abnormalities and possibly fatal blood clots in the legs and lungs.

Covid may have an irreversible impact on the heart, according to Dr Rajpal Singh, Director and Interventional Cardiologist, Dept of Cardiology, Fortis Hospitals Bannerghatta Road.

“Despite common belief, there is strong evidence that Covid has a long-term and irreversible effect on the heart in approximately 20-25 percent of acute instances throughout recovery,” he says.

“Breathlessness, chest discomfort, palpitations/collapse, or giddiness are typical heart failure symptoms, with cardiac failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death being the most prevalent consequences,” the specialist adds of the signs of heart issues after Covid.

Who’s more at risk?

Dr. Brajesh Kunwar, Director-Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, and Dr. Zakia Khan, Senior Consultant-Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, say that a person with a heart vulnerable to disease and infection is more likely to succumb to fever, low oxygen levels, unstable blood pressures, and blood clotting disorders — all possible consequences of Covid-19 — than someone suffering solely from heart disease.

How Covid-19 can impact heart in multiple ways?

The Covid-19 virus can damage the heart in several ways, as per Dr Kunwar and Dr Khan. It also increases the risk for heart failure by 72%, heart attack by 63% and stroke by 52% — even among those whose original illnesses were mild.

* The virus may directly invade or inflame the heart muscle.

* It may indirectly harm the heart by disrupting the balance between oxygen supply and demand.

* Heart injury, which may be measured by elevated levels of the enzyme.

* Troponin in the bloodstream, has been detected in about one-quarter of patients hospitalized with severe Covid-19 illness across the globe.

How to assess your risk of cardiac complications post Covid

Patients at high risk of developing post-Covid cardiac difficulties can be identified by monitoring cardiac biomarkers including Troponin, ProBNP, and D-Dimers, as well as ECG and echocardiographic data.

Ambulatory holter monitor; blood thinners and anticoagulants

“In certain cases, a 24-48 ambulatory holter monitor may be recommended. Some persons in recovery are also more prone to develop POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which causes an increase in heart rate, brain fog, and light-headedness, according to studies,” says Dr Singh.

“However, the use of blood thinners and anticoagulants early in the treatment process may help to prevent and manage these problems. If any of these symptoms are noticed in recovering Covid patients, it is crucial to seek medical attention right away rather than waiting it out or trying home remedies,” he adds.

In nutshell, people should not be in a hurry to return to their normal schedule and intense exercise routine. Watch out for symptoms that indicate trouble for your heart and consult expert if you need to.


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