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Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm
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Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm
All countries
Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm

Global Statistics

All countries
Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm
All countries
Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm
All countries
Updated on August 11, 2022 4:00 pm
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Can Covid Cause A Heart Attack

Your Cardiac Conduction System

Covid-19 and Heart Diseases | Can Coronavirus Induce Heart Attack?

Your heart is a four-chambered muscular pump that runs on its own electrical system, known as the cardiac conduction system. Electricity starts from the top of the heart flowing to both the right ventricle that pumps blood to the lungs and the left ventricle pumping blood to the rest of the body. The system works like your own natural pacemaker.

Heart muscle cells can also create electricity independently of this cardiac conduction system in diseased states. COVID-19 can cause these cells to generate abnormal electricity, as well as create short circuits that lead to irregular heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias, says Kotak.

What The Study Found

Appearing in the journal Nature Medicine, the study was based on an analysis of health records maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs . The database included 153,760 adults infected by the coronavirus between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2021, before vaccines were readily available and prior to outbreaks of the delta and omicron variants. The infected adults, mostly older white men, were compared with two control groups of uninfected VA patients about 5.6 million treated during the same time frame and about 5.8 million treated pre-pandemic .

The researchers analyzed heart health over a yearlong period for all the study subjects. Compared to the control groups, those who tested positive for the coronavirus were found to be:

  • 72 percent more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease
  • 63 percent more likely to have a heart attack
  • 52 percent more likely to experience a stroke

For anyone who has had an infection, it is essential that heart health be an integral part of post-acute COVID care, Al-Aly advised.

Overall, the researchers determined that heart disease including heart failure and death occurred in 4 percent more infected people than uninfected people over a yearlong period.

Some people may think 4 percent is a small number, but its not, given the magnitude of the pandemic, Al-Aly said. That translates to roughly 3 million people in the U.S. who have suffered cardiovascular complications due to COVID-19.

How Does Covid Affect The Heart

The SARS-CoV-2 virus can directly invade the body causing inflammation. This can impact the heart, causing myocarditis and pericarditis inflammation of the heart muscle or outer lining of the heart.

Inflammation from COVID can also cause blood clotting, which can block a heart or brain artery causing a heart attack or stroke.

COVID can also cause abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots in the legs and lungs, and heart failure. Our understanding of how COVID causes heart inflammation and injury to the heart muscle is becoming clearer, though theres more to learn.

Persistent symptoms from the virus, called long COVID, have been reported in about 10-30% of people whove contracted COVID.

One study on long COVID, published in July, found common cardiovascular symptoms include heart palpitations, fast heart rate, slow heart rate, chest pain, visible bulging veins, and fainting.

Of roughly 3,700 study participants, over 90% reported their recovery lasted more than eight months.

Read more:The mystery of ‘long COVID’: up to 1 in 3 people who catch the virus suffer for months. Here’s what we know so far

The Delta variant, first identified in India in October 2020, is highly transmissible. Its the variant responsible for lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Although data is still emerging, it may cause more severe disease, and anecdotally may increase the chances of heart complications.

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Cytokine Storm: A Serious Coronavirus Complication

Most serious of all, Michos says, is the possibility of the immune system launching an attack on the invading virus that is so severe that it destroys healthy tissues.

When responding to infection with the new coronavirus, the body releases a flood of proteins called cytokines that help cells communicate with one another and fight the invaders.

In some people, perhaps due to a genetic difference, this normal defensive event is exaggerated, leaving them vulnerable to a cytokine storm. In a cytokine storm, the immune system response causes inflammation that can overwhelm the body, destroying healthy tissue and damaging organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart.

A cytokine storm and its resulting heart damage can also affect the hearts rhythm. Serious ventricular arrhythmias due to a cytokine storm can be catastrophic, Michos says.

A cytokine storm is difficult to survive. Current research is exploring the possible benefit of using immune-suppressing drugs to treat patients with COVID-19 who experience this serious complication.

The Four Most Urgent Questions About Long Covid

Doctors believe COVID

When Claire Hastie fell ill in March of last year, she reacted the way she usually would to a minor ailment: she tried to ignore it. It started off incredibly mild, she says. I would normally have paid no attention to it whatsoever.

But within a week she was flattened. I had just never felt ill in this way before. I felt like I had an elephant sitting on my chest. At times, she became convinced she was going to die.

A single mother of three, Hastie said what I thought might be my final words to the one child who happened to be walking past my bedroom door. Although her condition is not quite as overwhelming one year on, she says, Ive never had a symptom-free day since.

Hastie has what is now called long COVID: a long-lasting disorder that arises following infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Surveys of thousands of people have revealed an extensive list of symptoms, such as fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath, headaches and muscle aches. A team led by Athena Akrami, a neuroscientist at University College London who has long COVID, found 205 symptoms in a study of more than 3,500 people. By month 6, the most common were fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive dysfunction. These symptoms fluctuate, and people often go through phases of feeling better before relapsing.

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Can Immunocompromised People Get The Covid

People with immunocompromising conditions or people who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. The currently FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines and therefore can be safely administered to immunocompromised people.

Young Men Are At Highest Risk But The Overall Risk Is Very Low

The group that is most likely to develop myocarditis or pericarditis after getting the COVID-19 vaccine is young men aged 12 to 39. These side effects have only occurred in people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. They usually showed up after the second dose and within a week of vaccination.

However, the risk for anyone who gets vaccinated is very low.

Myocarditis or pericarditis after a COVID-19 vaccine is extremely rare after a primary vaccination, says Dr. Johnson. It is even more rare after a booster dose.

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How Covid Affects The Heart According To A Cardiologist

As the pandemic has progressed, researchers have begun to understand how COVID-19 impacts our bodies.

Early in the pandemic, risk factors such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes were quickly associated with an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID.

We now know that, among the myriad ways it can damage our health, the virus can affect the heart and directly cause a range of heart complications.

Also, mRNA COVID vaccines like those from Pfizer and Moderna have been linked with heart inflammation. But this is very rare, and youre much more likely to get heart inflammation from COVID infection than the vaccines.

Heres what we know so far.

Long Covid And The Heart

Can COVID Cause a Stroke or Heart Attack?

When it comes to long COVIDa constellation of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and anxiety, that persist for several monthsit is still difficult to establish an association with cardiovascular health.

What we dont knowand Im speaking as a cardiologistis how many of those patients with long COVID actually have cardiac involvement, Gersh says. Just because they have palpitations doesnt mean theres structural damage to the heart.

It is definitely plausible that the typical presentation of long COVID, which can include fatigue and shortness of breath, may be intertwined with cardiovascular problems. For example, someone with heart failure may have reduced blood flow to the brain, which may cause brain fog. But at this point, it is difficult to disentangle that relationship, Al-Aly notes.

The problems seen in Al-Alys and Tereshchenkos studiesincluding stroke, heart failure and acute coronary diseaseare not happening only in people with recognizable long COVID. A person might have a mild case of COVID, appear to recover completely and still be at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems months down the road.

Unfortunately, the risk estimate is high, says Tereshchenko, adding that these studies suggest the heart risks from COVID may be on par with those from smoking.

Al-Aly agrees. People think of cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes as risk factors for heart problems. We need to add COVID-19 to that list, he says.

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How You Can Protect Yourself

Just like with the flu, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is through common-sense prevention measures:

Practice social distancing. Dont shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or visiting public areas. Hand sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options.
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.

Take extra care to avoid crowded and closed public spaces, such as public transportation, theaters and restaurants. Limit travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly updates travel recommendations during the pandemic. Visit the CDC website to get the most up-to-date information.

This doesnt mean youre housebound, though. You can take walks outside and go grocery shopping . Just make sure to wipe down cart handles and wash your hands afterward.

But if youre feeling sick or showing signs of illness, be very cautious about going into public spaces and stay home from work or school.

For the latest information, including more detailed responses to some common questions, visit the following websites:

Covid Vaccines And The Heart

Scientists have discovered a link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare blood clotting syndrome.

Theres also a link between mRNA COVID vaccines and a rare side effect of heart inflammation . This seems to be most common in males under 30 and after the second vaccine dose.

Read more:The benefits of a COVID vaccine far outweigh the small risk of treatable heart inflammation

But this is very rare. Of the 5.6 million Pfizer vaccine doses administered to Australians so far, there have only been 111 cases of suspected heart inflammation reported up to August 1. There have been no reported deaths associated with this vaccine side effect in Australia.

Recovery from this heart inflammation is generally good. The benefits of vaccination against COVID far outweigh the potential risks of these generally mild conditions.

Nevertheless, if you experience any change in symptoms after having a COVID vaccine, including chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, fainting or shortness of breath, you should seek prompt medical attention.

The vast majority of people with heart conditions are safe to get vaccinated. But if you have had myocarditis or pericarditis in the past six months then speak with your doctor or cardiologist.

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Is High Blood Pressure A Probable Risk Factor For Covid

Growing data shows a higher risk of COVID-19 infections and complications in people with high blood pressure.Analysis of early data from both China and the U.S. shows that high blood pressure is the most commonly shared pre-existing condition among those hospitalized, affecting between 30% to 50% of the patients.

What Did The Abstract Say

A Heart Attack? No, It Was the Coronavirus

Researchers used something called the Protein Unstable Lesion Signature Cardiac Test in 566 people visiting a cardiac clinic. All of these individuals had recently received the second dose of one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines .

The PULS Cardiac Test claims to predict heart attack risk over a 5-year period by measuring nine different markers in a blood sample. After the marker levels are determined, a score is generated. A higher PULS score may indicate an increased heart attack risk.

In the individuals tested, three of the nine markers had increased following vaccination. These markers were associated with inflammation. The increase boosted the PULS score by a predicted 11 percent compared to pre-vaccination levels.

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Seeking Care For Possible Heart Attacks

During the pandemic, some people have avoided going to hospitals for emergency care, out of fear of being exposed to COVID-19 in the emergency room. If youre experiencing signs of a heart attack, its urgent to get to the hospital quickly, to get the care that you need.

If you think that youre having a heart attack, dont drive to the hospital call 911. Emergency medical responders can begin to give you critical care when they arrive at your home, and you should be seen in the emergency room more quickly if you arrive by ambulance.

If you think that youre having a heart attack and youve recovered from COVID-19, you or your family members should mention this detail to the EMTs and the doctors in the emergency room, says Dr. Landers.

What Are Some Heart Conditions That Increase The Risk Of Severe Illness From Covid

Heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension, put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. People with hypertension may be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should continue to take their medications as prescribed.

17 related questions found

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Common Myocarditis Myths Busted

Still not convinced? Below, Dr. Elias addresses the most frequent concerns he hears from patient families, and busts common myths about myocarditis and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will cause a child to develop heart disease.

Fact: Children are much more likely to develop heart issues after COVID-19 infection than after the vaccine. When children develop myocarditis after COVID-19 infection, its typically much more severe than when it occurs post-vaccine.

Myth: Kids dont get that sick from COVID-19, so they dont need the vaccine.

Fact: While kids are less likely to develop severe illness from COVID-19, they can get COVID-19, they can transmit COVID-19 and they can die from COVID-19. Even if they initially have no symptoms with infection, they can still develop MIS-C, which many families havent ever heard of.

Myth: Children with congenital heart disease are at a higher risk of developing post-vaccine myocarditis.

Fact: Congenital heart disease is not a risk factor for developing post-vaccine myocarditis. However, it has been identified by the CDC as a risk factor for severe infection for COVID-19.

Covid And The Heart: It Spares No One

Albuquerque doctors say COVID-19 can cause long-term heart problems

Research now tells us that COVID doesnt discriminate when it comes to heart problems.

Interview by Stephanie Desmon

Until now, people who suffered mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 were thought to have dodged the brunt of the viruss brutal side effects. But new evidence has revealed that anyone infected with COVID is at higher risk for heart issuesincluding clots, inflammation, and arrhythmiasa risk that persists even in relatively healthy people long after the illness has passed.

In this Q& A, adapted from the of Public Health On Call, Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center and chief of Research and Education Service at Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, talks with Stephanie Desmon about COVID-19 and the heart, including his recent study, which found a significant risk of heart problems in people a year after being diagnosed with COVID.

Want COVID-19 articles like these in your inbox? Subscribe to Expert Insights, a 2x-per-week newsletter with the latest insights and research from public health experts.

You just published a study that says that in some people whove had COVID, heart issues can persist for a year or more. What does this mean and what did you study?

We did this study to evaluate the one-year risk of heart problems in people who got COVID-19, compared to nearly 11 million controls of people who did not.

What did you find?

What’s going on in the body?

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Causes And Risk Factors

The majority of people who develop heart muscle damage from COVID-19 have significant pre-existing medical conditions that predispose them to cardiac disease, including coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, or hypertension.

No single cause has been identified. There are several potential mechanisms that might produce this heart damage, and it is likely that all of them may play a role to one extent or another. These include:

  • Myocarditis: Heart muscle inflammation
  • Stress cardiomyopathy: Also known as “broken heart syndrome,” this occurs in response to severe physical stress. A large portion of the heart muscle suddenly stops functioning, leading to acute heart failure.
  • Severe, generalized hypoxia: Theabsence of oxygen caused by overwhelming lung disease can damage the heart, especially in areas where the vascular supply to the muscle is already compromised.
  • Rupture of a pre-existing coronary artery plaque: Triggered by the inflammation produced by COVID-19, a rupture can lead to a heart attack or other forms of acute coronary syndrome.
  • Inflammatory damage to the small coronary arteries
  • Cytokine storm: This exaggerated immune response linked to COVID-19 can cause serious health problems, including direct damage to the heart. Low blood pressure caused by cytokine storm can also interfere with the heart’s ability to pump.

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