COVID-19 attacks the cardiovascular system and may exasperate preexisting heart conditions.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) directly attacks the cardiovascular system, according to experts at the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) School of Medicine.
COVID-19 has infected more than 9 million people worldwide and has caused over 480,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. COVID-19 is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and is most commonly associated with being a respiratory disease; however, it also affects the cardiovascular system, according to the study.
In an interview given by UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, Kai Chen, MD, PhD, noted that COVID-19 is a lung disease that causes an increased heart workload; however, it goes well beyond that. The virus can trigger heart attacks and is associated with increased blood clots, which affect the brain, heart, and lung circulation. Additionally, the virus can also directly infect the heart, which can cause muscle damage and heart failure, according to the interview.
“The most common cardiac issue in patients with COVID-19 is perhaps the cardiac injury that can be measured in the bloodstream as elevated enzymes. These patients have more complications and worse hospital outcome,” Chen said in the interview.
Heart conditions may also worsen if a patient contracts COVID-19. Old patients living with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or other preexisting cardiac conditions are not only more vulnerable to COVID-19, they have worse outcomes while suffering from the disease, according to the interview.
High-risk individuals are encouraged to not disrupt cardiac care and should practice social distancing. This includes hand washing and wearing a mask while out in public. According to the interview, in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, patients should also seek assistance if experiencing symptoms and should not avoid going to the emergency department or calling 911 out of fear.
Woods, Lauren UConn Health Doctor: COVID-19 Directly Targets the Cardiovascular System (News Release); University of Connecticut; June 16, 2020; UConn Today; accessed June 29, 2020