Heart complications Associated with Covid Survivors


Coronavirus Disease or Covid-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. Covid-19 has disrupted the world for the past 2 years. The world witnessed deaths at a terrifying rate, severe health crises, and socio-economic breakdowns. While the threat seems past today it has left a permanent dent in the life of the people.

India was one of the many countries that saw many COVID cases. Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka saw a massive spike in the number of active cases in both the first and second waves of the outbreak. 

The COVID survivors have been suffering from numerous health complications post recovering as well. Complications of the heart among other problems are seen in the body. The doctors at the best heart hospital in Bangalore say, a fair number of patients discharged after recovery from Covid-19 have come back with complaints about chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue. A fair share of these cases has been screened for some or the other heart-related complications. 

If this wasn’t enough strain, researchers have now found health complications in Covid-19 survivors. According to research at Washington University School of Medicine, Covid-19 survivors have more than 70% higher risk of heart failure. Covid-19 survivors have about 63% higher risk of myocardial infarction, 69% higher risk of heart arrhythmias, and 52% higher risk of heart stroke. Covid-19 increases the risk of fatal blood clots in the lungs by three times and myocarditis by five times concerning people who did not have Covid-19. These risks are evident in patients regardless of sex, age, or race.

The most noticeable heart condition in Covid-19 survivors is Myocarditis. 

Myocarditis– Myocarditis in simple terms is inflammation of the heart. This complication is seen in various other viral infections. This complication is also common in drug reactions. The inflammation reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood. Common myocarditis symptoms are- chest pain, fatigue, swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet, palpitations, shortness of breath, at rest or during activity, light-headedness or feeling like you might faint, Flu-like symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pain, and fever or sore throat. The RNA of the virus was found in the heart tissues in various cases suggesting the virus possesses cardiac tropism. The clinical presentation of myocarditis varies from a case-to-case basis. Some survivors may present relatively mild symptoms such as fatigue and dyspnea. Some report chest pain and tightening of the chest. Many patients do deteriorate and show signs of heart attack and stroke. Some arguments have been made that 7% of the total number of deaths in Covid-19 infection is due to myocarditis. Myocarditis is a heart problem that is showing up primarily in younger survivors and can cause serious complications.

Other heart complications in Covid-19 survivors are discussed below.

Myocardial infarction– Myocardial infarction is generally known as a heart attack. It is the sudden death of a part of the heart due to loss of blood flow. This occurs when one of the coronary arteries is blocked. The main reason for this is atherosclerosis which is fat plaques in the walls of the blood vessel. Covid-19 causes elevated troponin levels. Troponin is a protein that is integral for muscle contractions in cardiac muscle. This coupled with inflammation due to Covid-19 with assumed causes such as stress, hypoxic and ischemic injuries can worsen the case.

Heart arrhythmias-An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat such as the heart beating too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. In Covid-19 survivors, the most common arrhythmia is Sinus Tachycardia. In this condition, the heart beats in a regular rhythm but faster than normal. It is very common to have tachycardia as a physiological response to stress. The symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, shortness of breath, and inflammation inside the body can cause tachycardia. Tachycardia may not show any signs and symptoms but if left untreated it can cause serious health problems including heart failure, stroke, or sudden cardiac arrest.

There are various implications to these findings. In a study of over 150 thousand patients that have recovered from Covid-19, it was found that they are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases. The patients who had to be admitted to ICU or CCU due to Covid-19 have a maximum risk of developing cardiovascular issues. It also stated that the risk of cardiovascular issues is also for those who were infected by not being hospitalised. This shows that even if a person who was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms is at risk. In most studies, Covid-19 is associated with a wide range of lasting problems. Although treatment is available for most heart conditions, these are not curable conditions. Researchers around the world are still collecting and studying the data on Covid-19 victims, both those who perished and those who survived to come up with definitive statistics on this issue. The bottom line is that in times like these everyone has to stay very careful as what lies in the post-Covid world is unknown to everyone.