Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure or another cardiovascular condition? If so, then you should be especially alert and aware as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world. It’s well understood at this point that the coronavirus is worse for those who have underlying conditions, including high blood pressure and other cardiac issues, but researchers are seeing another disturbing link between heart damage and COVID-19.
Not only do pre-existing heart conditions leave you more susceptible to severe symptoms from the viral illness, but the illness itself can cause heart damage.
According to studies, one in five patients with coronavirus has some sort of damage to the cardiac muscle. This damage can lead to potentially fatal blood clots. Another study of 416 hospitalized patients in China showed that 20% of the patients had heart damage. Of these, more than half ultimately died. Only 4.5% of the patients without heart damage died. Experts agree that having heart conditions before acquiring the novel coronavirus leaves people more susceptible to heart damage, but those hit hardest by the acquired heart damage are those who didn’t have any heart damage at all before becoming sick with the virus.
Doctors say the causes of heart damage with COVID-19 are various. For instance, stress from the virus itself and the impacts on the lungs can be partially to blame. Overall, experts agree that inflammation from the immune system response could be the biggest factor in sustained heart damage. With severe inflammation, cholesterol deposits in the arteries can become unstable and cause blockages leading to a heart attack.
Even younger and healthier patients can sustain heart damage, including myocarditis, or an infection of the heart muscle itself.
While the heart damage can present during the coronavirus infection, the symptoms can last longer than the recovery from COVID-19.
This underscores the need for heart health. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with a heart condition, now is a great time to begin working towards a healthier heart. This can be done through a healthier diet and a set exercise routine. There are a number of supplements that can also be used to promote heart health. If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, make sure to speak with your physician before beginning or changing any new medication or exercise routine.
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