- Covid-19 can damage the heart muscle and impairs cardiac function.
- People recovering from the coronavirus sometimes show symptoms of a condition known as POTS
Some of the symptoms seen in coronavirus “long-haulers,” such as palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath, could be caused by cardiac problems — or simply by being sick with COVID-19, reports an article published in Hopkins Medicine.
Possible heart issues
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes COVID-19, a disease that damages heart muscle and impairs cardiac function. This is due to a number of factors. The coronavirus connects to angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors on cardiac cells before entering them. High levels of inflammation circulating in the body can potentially cause heart damage. The inflammatory process that occurs while the body’s immune system battles the virus can harm some healthy tissues, including the heart. Coronavirus infection also affects the inner walls of veins and arteries, causing inflammation, damage to extremely small capillaries, and blood clots, all of which can reduce blood flow.
People recovering from the coronavirus sometimes show symptoms of a condition known as POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). Researchers are exploring whether or not there is a link.
POTS isn’t directly a cardiac problem but a neurologic one that affects the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood flow. The syndrome can cause rapid heartbeats when you stand up, leading to brain fog, fatigue, palpitations, lightheadedness, and other symptoms.
“Heart attack” has several different forms. A type 1 heart attack, caused by a blood clot blocking one of the heart’s arteries, is rare during or after COVID-19 infection.
Type 2 heart attacks are more common with COVID-19. This heart attack can be caused by increased stress on the heart, such as a fast heartbeat, low blood oxygen levels, or anemia. The heart muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen delivered in the blood to do this extra work. We have seen this in people with acute coronavirus disease, but it is less common in those who have survived the illness.”
Are heart problems likely to show up later on?
Many of these questions, according to Post, are still unanswered. SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 2019, and most COVID-19 survivors have only recently begun to recover. It’s difficult to predict how the disease will damage people’s hearts in the long run, and this is just one area where researchers are concerned.
COVID-19 survivors’ health is being tracked by the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with dozens of academic medical institutes. Patients’ data is being consolidated by study organizations like C4R to assist in forecasting the long-term impact of the coronavirus on health and ongoing care.
Research shows that there is still a lot to learn about lasting heart effects on people who have had COVID-19. In some cases, patients are left with signs of heart damage that may call for continued monitoring.
The post cites a German study in which cardiac MRIs were conducted on 100 people who had the coronavirus and survived. The researchers saw abnormal findings in 78 of these patients. Compared with those who had not had COVID-19, these patients showed scarring and inflammation of the heart muscle and its surrounding tissue (pericardium). However, this study was limited by the lack of an appropriate comparison group, and subsequent studies have found a much lower incidence of myocarditis in those with a prior COVID-19 infection. Another small study assessed 26 college athletes who had COVID-19 with mild symptoms or none at all.
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Source: Hoopkins Medicine