Along with lung disease the coronavirus is causing cardiac problems according to
a recent study published by JAMA network.
The research was done at the Seventh Hospital of Wuhan City, China. In the study, 187 patients were observed. 43 of these patients died. 66 patients already had underlying cardiac diseases like hypertension, coronary heart diseases and cardiomyopathy.
It was observed that 1 out of 5 patients have cardiac problems i.e. 20%. This is not clear that whether this is caused directly by the virus or it is a “by-product” of Covid-19.
The pandemic affects the lungs and the oxygen sacs which provide oxygen to the bloodstream. This results in lack of oxygen in blood. This lacking becomes a cause of cell death and tissues damage. To overcome this, heart has to pump more blood to fulfill the oxygen needs of the body. People who already have heart problems, are more affected as their heart is already damaged. This can result in serious heart disease called cardiomyopathy.
When the body is attacked by the virus, the body undergoes stress, due to which, the kidneys release catecholamines in the blood. These hormones can cause heart diseases like blood pressure, blood glucose levels etc.
Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., said “Most serious of all is the possibility of the immune system launching an attack on the invading virus that is so severe that it destroys healthy tissues.” So it is also possible that immune system destroys the tissues and this leads to heart diseases.
Cytokine is a protein which helps the cells communicate with one another to fight the invaders. In response to the pandemics, our body releases a lot of cytokine, which is called cytokine storm. In cytokine storm, the immune system overwhelms the body. This destroys the healthy tissues including the heart tissues.
People who already are suffering from heart diseases are more affected by this. It is so because they are already weak and their tissues are not working properly. The death rate of old people is very high as compared to teens or young people. The reason behind this is that they have underlying heart diseases and the virus attacks the heart and makes the conditions worse. While if young people are affected, they can still fight it as they can face minor diseases like blood pressure etc.
Another cause of heart problems due to the pandemics is the antivirals and anti-inflammatories. People are using antivirals to stay safe from COVID-19, while they affect the immune system and heart badly.
Dr. Jack Wolfson, a board certified cardiologist and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, says “Anti-inflammatories and antivirals impact the immune system and the heart muscle in many different ways, some of which could lead to lethal heart rhythms in the short term or worsen heart recovery in the long term.”
NSAIDs(Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) can cause high blood pressure in people who already have heart problems. Moreover, glucocorticoids, which are used to reduce inflammation, cause increase in blood sugar levels, which leads to problems in people with underlying health conditions.
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Initially, was assumed to affect the lungs of the patients, and it was considered that the death was because of lung failure. The health officials were providing ventilator facilities. But now, It is observed that it not only affects lungs, it also damages heart. Especially, people who already have heart diseases, are affected the most. This is not clear that either the virus directly damages our heart or is a byproduct, or it maybe a side effect of the safety precautions we are taking to avoid the pandemics.