The original thought was that the novel coronavirus is a respiratory disease, but as the number of patients who have contracted the virus are increasing, it has become clear that COVID-19 has several other implications.
The impact of COVID-19 goes beyond the respiratory system and the lungs, it has tremendous impact on the cardiovascular system of the human body as well. Reports have suggested that heart failure has been one of the main causes of death in COVID -19 patients, even in the ones who do not have severe breathing problems. 1 out of 5 people who contract the virus have reportedly mentioned having faced some heart related problem. Dr. Vaibhav Mishra, Director- CTVS, Fortis Hospital Noida talks about the reason as to why COVID-19 causes heart damage and why it is not the same for everyone. Damage to heart tissue can be due to several reasons, some of which are:
Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)
In certain instances, COVID-19 may directly infect and damage the hearts muscle tissue. This causes inflammation of the heart which is known as myocarditis.
Once the body is attacked by the virus, the immune system launches an attack to protect us from the virus. In some cases, this attack gets so severe that it leads to the destruction of some of the healthy tissues. In some people this event is exaggerated and there is a vulnerability to a cytokine storm, which means that the immune system response can cause inflammation in the body resulting in causing damage to organs like kidneys, liver and the heart.
Lack of oxygen
As stated earlier, the virus causes inflammation and fluid fills up in the air sacs of the lungs. Therefore, this leads to a complication where less oxygen reaches the bloodstreams of the patient’s body. The heart then must work harder to pump blood through the body. This could be dangerous for people who already have heart diseases. It may lead to a heart failure from overworking, or insufficient oxygen can cause tissue damage in the heart.
Viruses cause cardiomyopathy which is a disorder that affects the heart muscle and causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood well. This further leads to irregular heartbeats. When the body is attacked by the virus, it goes under stress and releases chemicals that are called catecholamines that can startle the heart.
After several months of dealing with the virus, doctors are now getting exhausted. Therefore, the citizens should take utmost care of themselves. Heart patients should comply with their medications to avoid complications and patients without heart diseases should always be in touch with their primary care consultant when they develop symptoms of heart damage, which could be chest pain or shortness of breath.
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