In the recent times we have noticed the destructible nature of corona virus and how severe it can get in not time. Covid-19 is a transmittable disease strain that affects on your lungs and cardiovascular system the most. Despite the epidemiological evidence which links to covid-19, there is not much known what all gets affected by corona virus. One such heart situation which is linked to Covid-19 is atrial fibrillation. It is highly prevalent in patients who are infected by SARS COVID-19 and people are getting infected due to it. Let us know more about atrial fibrillation and its link to corona virus.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
It is a heart condition where the heart rate is rapid and irregular. It can cause strokes, heart failure and other heart related complications. Basically the upper two chamber of the heart start beating irregularly in this which go out of coordination with the lower ones. This causes heart palpations, shortness of breath and weakness. It may be temporary or for long period, if goes on to develop for long term then a serious medical condition may occur which could be life-threatening.
How Is Covid Related To Atrial Fibrillation?
Dr. Sunil Kumar, Cardiologist from Columbia Asia Hospital, Bengaluru tells about the relation between Corona virus and atrial fibrillation. He says although respiratory tract is most infected by covid, it is also seen evidently that Atrial Fibrillation was present in many cases that were infected with covid or had a history of cardiovascular diseases. Atrial Fibrillation is prevalent in arrhythmia which involves electrical, calcium and structural remodelling. The underlying cause of it is still not very evident but there have been significant cases which show indirect relation of Atrial Fibrillation with covid.
He says in most cases the heart rate goes from 100-175 beats a minute whereas the normal range is 60-100 beats a minute. In case of Atrial Fibrillation the signals which the upper chambers send to heart are chaotic which result in AV node. It is a connection between the atria and the ventricles which gets bombarded with impulses trying to get through the ventricles. This results in panic like situation and discomfort in normal heart rate and breathing which is also connected to Covid.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation-
- Palpitations- racing sensation or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
The unfortunate part is that it is possible that you may not have any symptoms too and mostly a regular check up of physician won’t be able to determine if you have Atrial Fibrillation. This is because these are very common symptoms which are evident in many other diseases too.
Types of Atrial Fibrillation
There are four types of atrial fibrillation-
Occasional: This is more of temporary condition which usually lasts for few minutes and then it ends. This is called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The symptoms may however last for few days. If it happens repeatedly, you may need to see a doctor.
Persistent: This is far more serious condition when the heart beat doesn’t go back to normal on its own. If there is persistent atrial fibrillation then you will need a electrical shock treatment or medication to restore the heart rate.
Long-standing persistent: This is similar to persistent where the atrial fibrillation lasts for more than 12 months.
Permanent: This as the name suggests is a permanent problem. The heart rate beat won’t go back to normal therefore you might have to take continuous medications to regularise the heart rate. It may also cause blood clots so medication is very important.
How Is Covid Affecting Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation is found in 19-21% cases of people suffering from covid-19. Around 36% of people who suffer from covid-19 have some kind of cardiovascular diseases out of which 42% of them having Atrial Fibrillation were not able to survive.
According to Covid-19 Task Force of Italian National Institute of Health 24.5% of people who could not survive covid-19 had Atrial Fibrillation.
These types of incidents are high in people who have a history or are suffering from pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis. The rate of developing or having Atrial Fibrillation is around 1/3 of the total people having these diseases.
This is just a statically analysed data which shows the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in covid patients. There are no specific reports which on the occurrence of AF during Covid-19 infection. The people who were fatal in these conditions were mostly older people above age of 70 years. Covid-19 takes 4-6 days to spread which is not adequate enough for Atrial Fibrillation to turn severe but any other cardiovascular problems and age factor can be a major cause of mortality.
Complications Due To Atrial Fibrillation
Stroke: Atrial Fibrillation causes chaotic rhythm which results to excessive blood pump in you upper chambers of the chest. This further forms clots and if these clots goes worse then there is a chance of dislodge from heart to the brain, which can cause a stroke. Mostly people who are older have higher risk of strokes than the youngsters. This also depends on the other medical conditions such as diabetes, high BP etc.
Heart Failure: If Atrial Fibrillation is not controlled at the right time then it can cause heart failure. In this condition your heart is unable to circulate enough blood to meet the demands of the body. Covid can also be a cause of heart failure.
People who have atrial fibrillation are at higher risk of getting fatal with covid. It is observed that those who have a history of cardiovascular diseases happen to have more mortality rate than those who don’t. Atrial Fibrillation is a condition which increases the heart beat rate in upper chambers of the heart which causes chaos in the blood circulation. This increases the chance of stroke and heart failure. Along with covid-19, this becomes more deadly as patient is unable to recover and the virus affects the cardiovascular system. However there are no conclusive evidence or reports which state atrial fibrillation as a cause of fatality among the covid-19 patients.
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