Even in the early days of the spread of the pandemic, experts in the medical field were already informing the public how individuals with preexisting medical conditions such as cardiovascular illnesses are more susceptible to the virus than other people. It has been over a year since the first case of COVID-19 in the country was first recorded. What have we learned during these times?
Originally, COVID-19 is an infectious disease that brings forth an intense immune system; wherein patients will manifest symptoms of mild to moderate respiratory symptoms — from sneezing to breathing difficulty that can lead to multi system involvement including the heart.
The relationship between COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease
A study led by Valentina Puntmann was conducted in Germany in 2020 to examine the MRIs of the heart of 100 individuals who recovered from COVID-19 and compared it to another set of 100 individuals who were not infected with the virus. The study showed that after two months, patients who were once infected with the virus showed signs of heart problems. 78 of the recovered individuals manifested changes in the structure of their heart.
Apart from this, some patients also showed signs of inflammation in the heart. With this, the body reacts to it by activating the clotting system. However, this can increase the risk of blood clotting in the lungs; disrupting the oxygen level in the blood.
Medical experts explained that the fever and infection caused by COVID-19 causes the heart rate to increase. The fluctuating blood pressure brought by the condition also stresses the heart and the increase in oxygen demand may result in damage to the heart.
Moreover, individuals with preexisting cardiovascular diseases have higher risks in contracting COVID-19. When a person has a pre-existing medical condition, such as heart ailment, they have a poor immune system. This means that a person with heart conditions is also more vulnerable to the stress caused by the virus such as fever, fluctuating oxygen levels and blood pressure, and blood clotting tendencies.
The bottom line
Based on the studies conducted, any underlying condition, such as heart ailment, increases the person’s risk to COVID-19 as much as how the virus puts a person at higher risk of heart damage. Whether you recover from the virus or you have a cardiovascular disease, healthy living can help a lot in fighting COVID-19.
Being physically active is always one of the best ways you can do to strengthen your heart. There are many simple exercises you can to make your heart stronger to fight the risks brought by the virus. These exercises can be as simple as brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, and jumping rope. But the boost it gives to your heart would be enough. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is important to check with your physicians prior to initiating a new exercise program.
Apart from exercise, don’t forget to eat a heart-friendly diet. Cook at home if possible and refrain from preparing foods that are high in cholesterol. Focus on vegetables and fruits and opt for whole grains. Minimize the sodium in your foods too as it can contribute to high blood pressure. For any heart related questions and the impact of having COVID-19, contact us at Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants.