Covid-19 can affect our heart muscles and form blood clots in our body which could result in a heart attack. Know the warning signs from cardiologist.
Many cases of heart attacks leading to death have been reported after weeks and months of people recovering from Covid-19. While there has been no direct link between the two, experts suggest that even the mild version of the deadly virus infection could affect the cardiovascular system and prove fatal. Covid-19 leads to formation of blood clots which could affect lungs or heart and cause strokes among other life-threatening conditions. The muscles of the heart may also be weakened due to the virus and it may result in heart failure even after the patient recovers from Covid infection. With instances of post Covid heart attacks and other cardiac complications on rise, one must be constantly in touch with their doctors to address any warning sign of cardiac arrest.
Also Read: The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Human Heart
How Covid Could Increase Your Chance Of A Heart Attack
"There is definitely a relation between Covid and cardiac arrest. Covid increases the coagulation of the blood. There are more chances of clotting compared to the person with non-Covid background. Especially if you see patients with multiple risk factors - Diabetes, Hypertension, old age, people who are bed-ridden, not very ambulant, when these people have Covid, they have higher incidence of stroke and heart attacks," Dr. Prasan Prabhakar, Cardiologist, Chairman, Laxmi Hospitals, Kochi.
Dr Vivek Mahajan Consultant - Cardiac Surgery, Fortis Hospital Kalyan, elaborates on the warning signs that one may experience before suffering from a heart attack or a cardiac complication. A weakened heart can lead to heart failure post-Covid. This can also happen in people with pre-existing weak hearts.
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling all over the body and particularly in the feet.
- Patients with palpitations or breathlessness should be evaluated if they have a weak heart muscle that could lead to a heart attack. Complaints of palpitation are very common after COVID-related Myocarditis. Patients often exhibit fluctuation in heart rate from very fast to extremely slow for few weeks to months after recovery.
- Some patients tend to have a severe infection of the heart muscle and can lead to extreme weakness of the heart leading to heart failure.
- Weakening of heart muscles can also lead to dangerously fast disturbances of Heart rhythm called Arrhythmias and these can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
Dr. Mahajan also explains how Covid-19 the different kind of life-threatening conditions that may occur due to formation of blood clots.
Deep Vein Thrombosis: Covid-19 virus directly infects the lining of the blood vessels both carrying the pure blood to the organs (Arteries) and the impure blood from various organs to the Heart (Veins). This can also cause blood clots in the veins of the leg leading to a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Pulmonary Thromboembolism: Blood clots may dislodge and travel to the lung vessels via the heart, blocking the blood supply to the lungs. This is a condition called Pulmonary Thromboembolism and is life-threatening if the clot is a large one.
Heart Attacks & Strokes: If clotting occurs in the arteries of the heart, then it could lead to a stroke which can be life-threatening. The arteries of the heart are particularly vulnerable to choking by clot formation, heart attacks and these are commonly seen among COVID-19 patients. These clotting complications may occur even in milder forms of infection even a few weeks or months after the recovery. Blood thinners like Rivaroxaban may be beneficial to prevent these complications in selected patients at a higher risk.
Here's How To Protect Your Heart From These Complications
- Patients having features of palpitations or breathlessness should be evaluated for the involvement of the heart muscle. 2D echo, MRI of the Heart, and blood tests for heart muscle damage assessment like Troponin may be advised.
- 24-hour monitoring of the heart rhythm with a Holter monitor may help in detecting Heart rhythm disturbances.
- Steroids and antiarrhythmic drugs can be particularly helpful in such conditions to prevent Heart rhythm disturbances.
- Various drugs which remove the excessive water through urine and improve the functioning of the heart can be helpful in such conditions.
While Covid-19 can cause complications during or after the infection, to prevent severe infection, one must do regular exercises, follow healthy diets, control weight, take care of their blood pressure, control blood glucose and must avoid smoking or drinking excessively.
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