Cardiovascular disease, such as Congenital heart disease, Coronary artery disease, Heart muscle disease is a leading cause of death across the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for over 25% of all annual medical deaths worldwide.
COVID-19 pandemic escalates the transmission risk in patients with pre-existing heart disease. COVID-19 can be dangerous and bring fatal consequences for people with an underlying cardiovascular disease. This pandemic can even lead to serious cardiac injury in patients who have not reported any history of underlying cardiac illness.
Coronavirus, a pandemic that has spread like a wildfire across the world is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2) virus which attacks the human immunity leading to severe respiratory damage. Cardiovascular comorbidities have been found common in patients with COVID-19 risking them to a higher likelihood of mortality.
More importantly, senior citizen patients with a mean age of 80 years with pre-existing co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, kidney and cardiovascular disease are at the highest risk group of COVID-19 mortality.
An expert study conducted in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic described the extent of cardiovascular disease among 41 patients hospitalized Coronavirus symptoms in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Out of 41 patients, five of them showed signs of cardiovascular damage. Cardiovascular damage is a leading cause of heart failure and death even among those had showed no signs of respiratory distress.
Cardiovascular symptomatic patients had elevated levels of cardiac troponin (a protein released in the blood by an injured heart muscle) and abnormalities in their heart ultrasounds and electrocardiograms.
Why is COVID-19 Dangerous to Cardiovascular Patients?
- A COVID-19 infection poses a severe threat for individuals (especially among the older age group) with pre-existing heart disease than those without any history of cardiac problems.
- Respiratory infections like Flu and the recent coronavirus can bring heart attacks. Coronavirus is associated with pneumonia-like conditions, which can cause widespread inflammation in the body. This may lead to clogging in arteries, causing heart attacks.
- Asymptomatic people with historically undiagnosed heart disease may be at a much higher risk with silent cardiac symptoms unmasked by coronavirus attack.
- Symptomatic patients with diagnosed heart-vessel blockages fear a destabilization of the fatty plaques inside the heart vessel infection due to COVID-19 fever and inflammation.
- This fever and inflammation can make the blood vessels more prone to clotting and interfere with the body’s ability to dissolve pre-existing and newly formed clots.
- Fever and inflammation can escalate heart rate thereby increasing metabolic demands on many organs, including the heart. This stress is compounded if the lungs are severely infected and are incapable to perform the respiratory function (exchange oxygen against the carbon dioxide) diminishing oxygen supply to the heart muscles.
- A subset of people with no cardiovascular comorbidities has been found to develop heart muscle inflammation as a result of the coronavirus directly infecting their heart. This type of inflammation is dangerous and can lead to cardiac muscle damage, heart rhythm disturbances besides interfering with the heart’s ability to pump blood.
Critical High-Risk Category
You are in the critical risk group among Cardiovascular comorbidities if you-
- Are above 70 with pre-existing heart disease.
- Have heart disease and chronic kidney disease or lung disease.
- Have angina and must depend on Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) for chest pain.
- Had a previous heart attack or have been admitted to a hospital in the least one year for heart-attack treatment.
- Have a severe heart valve disease or if you are waiting for valve surgery.
- Are recovering from a recent open-heart surgery (including heart bypass) in the last three months.
- Have symptoms like breathlessness, that restricts the normal functioning of your daily life.
- Have a congenital heart disease along with pulmonary hypertension or lung disease.
- Are over 70 or are pregnant, or have complex congenital heart diseases like single ventricle, cyanosis or Fontan.
Caring for the Heart- Why is it Important?
Research points out that-
- Patients with a pre-existing cardiovascular condition are more likely to show heart damage after they are attacked with the Coronavirus infection.
- Patients without any history of heart disease have also shown critical signs of cardiac damage with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Those with no historical record of heart condition incurred serious heart damage with Coronavirus infection and are more likely to die than patients with previous heart disease condition and No- COVID-19 induced cardiac damage.
If you or your loved one is in the critical high-risk group, caring for the heart becomes more important now. An all-together second front may be required to fight the battle against COVID-19 pandemic. Essential precautions must be taken by people with pre-existing heart problems, which may include new treatment plans for damaged hearts among those who survive the COVID-19 crisis.
Support Care for COVID-19
Without any definite cure or a vaccine available for Coronavirus cure, at present only prescriptive support can be rendered. This supportive care address around building one’s immunity, tracking the vitals like blood pressure, treating heart failure with prescription medication, support of renal function and respiratory status.
Precautions for Cardiovascular Patients
- Stock your prescription medications for a month, remain in regular touch with your pharmacist for medicines and vaccinations.
- Take your medications as advised. Self-medication, stopping or changing your medication could be dangerous.
- Continue your medication, if you had a recent heart transplant. Reducing the doses may lead to a high risk of a rejection of the transplanted heart.
- Consult your doctors digitally over the phone or via online video chat. If at extreme conditions, face-to-face visits are a must, consult your heart specialist on the phone and book an appointment on the Gigadocs app.
- Build your immunity, this includes drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, sleeping adequate, exercising or meditating and managing stress.
Keep up with heart-medication as prescribed, practice stringent precautionary measures when you are at a high risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
Consulting Cardiologists on Gigadocs
Gigadocs is an intelligent practice management software solution that helps you manage your and your family’s complete healthcare requirements on one app. Record and maintain your vitals like pulse rate, heart rate to notice any abnormalities. Gigadocs helps you to safe keep them securely and share with your medical specialist in a live environment.
Book the best cardiologists, diabetes specialists, asthma treatment specialist, infectious diseases specialist on the Gigadocs app and consult them digitally at the comfort of your home.
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Gigadocs wishes you a Good Health and a Happy Heart!