Respiratory problems are a typical repercussion of COVID-19, but doctors on the front lines are now discovering that another medical problem is arising. Many COVID-19 patients are becoming victims of heart problems, and ultimately dying of cardiac arrest. With data from the U.S., China, and Italy, cardiac experts are discovering that COVID-19 can infect the heart muscle as well as the lungs. Even if the patient does not show signs of respiratory illness, a large portion of COVID patients suffered cardiac damage, often resulting in heart failure or death. This may change the way doctors approach treatment for recently diagnosed patients, especially in the early stages. Patients with existing heart problems should be especially cautious during the widespread pandemic. With this discovery, there will be increased demands for equipment and new treatment plans will need to be put in place for those who survive with cardiac damage. Doctors are working tirelessly as COVID-19 takes a toll on heart health.
COVID-19 Takes a Toll on Heart Health
One of the mysteries behind this problem is whether or not the virus itself causes heart problems, or if the body’s reaction to COVID is the cause. Since severe illness can influence heart health, it is hard to determine what role COVID plays in this. A cardiologist from Northwestern University believes that most of the damage seen in COVID patients is likely a result of the virus directly. Researchers are currently saying that the coronavirus attaches to receptors in the lungs, receptors that also exist in the heart muscle. Doctors from China provided the first numbers for how common cardiac problems are with COVID patients. The study showed that 19% of 416 hospitalized patients displayed signs of heart damage. Oddly enough, patients without preexisting conditions were found to be more likely to die from COVID-induced cardiac damage than those who already suffered from heart disease. It is still unclear why some patients experience more cardiac damage than others. For that reason, it is important that doctors closely monitor cardiac markers in coronavirus patients.
Finding Answers During the Epidemic
Gathering information on this issue has proven difficult, as most patients are too sick to undergo invasive procedures. Facilities also worry that further testing will expose health care workers to the virus. Even so, hospitals are making a valiant effort to order the necessary tests and record their findings. Interventional cardiologist Dr. Sahil Parikh and his colleagues have been documenting their findings in an online article, making sure to update it regularly. In labs all over the nation, experts are trying out new treatments in hopes they can soon share them with the world. Doctors are keeping in contact with one another through different social groups to record any new findings or changes. Since these discoveries have surfaced, doctors who were looking to clear a blockage in what they thought was a heart attack patient were able to first decide if the patient was really suffering from COVID-19. Knowing that this virus can cause heart problems will result in doctors changing some of their practices throughout the pandemic. Where they would normally take cardiac patients immediately to the catheterization lab, they won’t be needing to do that with COVID patients who do not need any blockage cleared. Doctors are now considering having cardiac patients quickly evaluated for COVID-19 first, so they won’t take any unnecessary drastic measures. The most important point of the research, however, is to determine what the proper steps are to ensure each patient is treated properly and is able to walk out of the hospital after recovering.
Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus!
As always, stay in your homes as much as possible. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces in your home and cars regularly. If you are still going to the office each day, sanitize your hands regularly throughout your shift and keep your workspace clean. If you feel sick, do NOT go to work, for your sake as well as those around you. Maintain a safe distance from people in public at all times, but most importantly: maintain your health! Reach out to your doctor by phone before going into a clinic or hospital.
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