According to the American Heart Association, nearly one-fourth of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have been diagnosed with cardiovascular complications. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Cardiology suggested those infected and recovered from COVID-19 could have ongoing heart abnormalities.
Stephen Schutzman, MD, Cardiologist with St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute, says it may be too soon to know if those with abnormalities will have long-term effects. “The study recently released was a very small study, and it only followed patients two to three months after recovering from COVID-19,” says Dr. Schutzman.
Does COVID-19 affect the heart?
Experts are still studying the virus and the long-term effects it could have on the body and the heart.
Dr. Schutzman stresses, “The average person with COVID-19 who is asymptomatic likely has nothing to be concerned about. Any viral illness, not just COVID-19, can cause shortness of breath and chest pain related to inflammation in the heart.”
Cardiac inflammation, called myocarditis, can cause fluid accumulation around the heart and inflammation of the heart muscle, which will result in shortness of breath, and blood pressure issues. If you have tested positive and have those symptoms, it is important to seek medical care immediately.
“Cardiologists deal with myocarditis in patients with the flu and upper respiratory infections as well,” says Dr. Schutzman. “We don’t yet know with COVID-19 if there will be any long-term effects, we are still learning new things about this virus.”
More studies will be done following people during and after infection from the coronavirus. Experts will need to examine how long heart inflammation lasts, whether it responds well to typical treatments, and if the inflammation resolves with supportive care.
Does cardiovascular disease put me at risk for getting COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said 1 in 3 people hospitalized with COVID-19 has cardiovascular disease. It is the most common underlying health condition for those hospitalized patients, but that does not mean that cardiovascular disease makes you more likely to get the virus. It means battling the virus may be more difficult.
“Certainly people with cardiovascular disease should consider themselves in a high-risk category,” says Dr. Schutzman. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, and follow the CDC guidelines as they adapt.”
According to the American Heart Association. If you are in your 60s or older and have coronary heart disease or high blood pressure, you are at risk of developing severe symptoms, should you contract COVID-19.
For more information
If you have concerns about your heart, don’t delay seeking care. St. Elizabeth now offers next-day cardiology appointments for patients who need them. To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, call (859) 287-3045.