By Dr. Umair Malik
A growing body of literature suggests Covid-19 can cause heart damage. The virus can cause inflammation of the heart, or myocarditis, which can prevent the heart muscle from squeezing effectively. This renders it unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, leading to heart failure. It can also cause arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, which can manifest as palpitations, dizziness, passing out or even sudden death. It also is becoming increasingly evident that Covid-19 can cause blood clots to form in the body; these clots can form in the blood vessels supplying the brain or the heart, resulting in strokes and heart attacks.
Moreover, some symptoms of lung injury from Covid-19 are very similar to symptoms of heart disease, such as trouble breathing or chest discomfort. For patients with a longstanding history of heart disease, it may not be immediately possible to differentiate these symptoms from the usual manifestations of their heart failure of coronary artery disease. Additionally, there is a concern that patients with a history of heart disease, or those who develop new heart disease, are not seeking medical care for fear of being exposed to infection.
Most significantly, patients with a history of heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure and diseases of the heart valves, are at a higher risk of developing complications in the event of Covid-19 infection and prone to worse outcomes compared to the average population.
Considering all of this, it is extremely important for patients with heart disease to be extra cautious at this time. They must wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their eyes or face and wear a mask when leaving the house. With appropriate precautions, the cardiovascular, as well as other complications of Covid-19, can be prevented.
Memorial physician Dr. Umair Malik is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. For a directory of Memorial’s cardiologists, visit WeAreMemorial.com or call (228) 867-5000.