COVID-19 is a growing global pandemic that has affected more than 1.6 million people in the United States alone. It causes mild flu-like symptoms including cough, chills, and fever in most people who contract the virus. Roughly 20% of people develop a more serious illness, according to research data from China. Experts initially focused on respiratory complications caused by COVID-19, such as pneumonia.
Board-certified cardiologist Dr. Ayim Djamson and our team here at Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants are dedicated to improving lives through the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we’re learning more about how the virus affects us, and we strive to increase awareness among our patients. Based on what we know now, COVID-19 may cause serious heart complications in people with preexisting heart issues and healthy individuals alike. Here’s what our experts want you to know.
COVID-19 may mimic heart attack
In some patients with severe symptoms, COVID-19 may mimic a heart attack. US hospitals treating patients with severe illness from the virus report patients having classic heart attack symptoms and showing signs of a heart attack on electrocardiograms (EKGs).
These patients experienced symptoms we typically associate with a heart attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath. Additionally, these patients had abnormal EKGs but didn’t have a blockage in a major artery.
COVID-19 can cause myocarditis
Viruses such as the flu virus are capable of directly infecting heart tissue, triggering inflammation, and we now know that COVID-19 is no different in that regard. COVID-19 can cause inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), which can make it more difficult for the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body, causing further complications.
The heart muscle can become weak, and heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) may develop, increasing the risk of death.
Preexisting heart problems increase complication risk
Having preexisting cardiovascular disease increases the risk of serious complications and death from COVID-19. This increased risk is also seen in people with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
Healthy individuals at risk of heart injury from COVID-19
Data suggest that 1 in 5 patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms have signs of injury to the heart muscles, and those with cardiac injury are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 complications. Researchers observed damage to the heart muscle in patients with and without preexisting heart conditions.
COVID-19 may cause serious heart trouble in various ways. If a preexisting condition is affecting your heart, it’s important to do everything possible to avoid infection. You’re more likely to develop serious complications if you get sick. To reduce your risk of catching COVID-19, follow CDC recommendations to protect yourself.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor to discuss the next steps. For more information about COVID-19 and your heart, and to schedule a consultation with Dr. Djamson, call the office nearest you or request your appointment online. Our offices are conveniently located in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia, Maryland. You can also send a message to Dr. Djamson and the team here on our website.