Recovered COVID-19 Patients May Face Lifelong Heart Problems

COVID-19 patients may struggle with lasting consequences, even long after the virus has cleared. There are a number of conditions now coming to light as possible lingering effects including some that may be lifelong. New reports suggest COVID-19 could be leaving staggering numbers of heart injuries in its wake for as many as 60% of those who have severe symptoms.

COVID-19 Creates Heart Complications

Reports have been flooding in on the effects COVID-19 can have on the heart, with as many as 60% of those with severe illnesses facing lasting damage. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isn’t unique in this aspect. Other viruses like adenovirus and enterovirus can also have cardiovascular effects, but this infection may have a few extra tricks up its sleeve.

COVID-19 can affect the heart in multiple ways:

  • Direct assaults against the heart can leave some sufferers with permanent damage, according to recent studies. SARS-CoV-2 uses an enzyme called ACE2 as an entryway into cells, which allows it to infect any organ where ACE2 is present. This includes the lungs and heart. Inflammation triggered by either the infection or the body’s immune response can compound the damage.
  • Increased blood pressure could also be a result of the virus’ impacts on ACE2. When SARS-CoV-2 uses up ACE2 to gain cell entry, it can result in a dangerous imbalance of enzymes in some systems. The body uses ACE2 for a number of its own functions, and one of those is regulating blood pressure. COVID-19’s effects on ACE2 may disrupt these functions. 
  • Arrhythmias can stem from the infection itself or related inflammation, low oxygen levels or metabolic imbalances. One study that tracked recent cardiac hospitalizations found 16.7% of severe COVID-19 patients with heart involvement had an arrhythmia.
  • Blood Clots can contribute to some patients’ complications. Some people may be more predisposed than others to clotting and inflammatory disorders and COVID-19 may be triggering this predisposition or even creating a predisposition where none existed.

Reducing Complications of COVID-19 on the Heart

Doctors are still looking into the best ways to protect patients with severe COVID-19 complications, but a few treatment options look promising. A report detailing an infant’s recovery from COVID-19-induced myocardial damage shows potential in a compound called sodium creatine phosphate. Other researchers are looking at antimicrobials, steroids and plasma therapy as possible options. Treatments that affect the availability of ACE2 on the cells could also help to prevent infection and subsequent damage. All of these and other efforts are still underway to help those most affected but at this time, it's still looking pretty bleak.

The complications of COVID-19 can be serious and long-lasting, with heart problems only adding to the list of possible long-term issues. Doctors and researchers are doing their best but until they gain the upper hand, prevention is still the best defense and current knowledge suggests that we can best protect each other by using masks and practicing social distancing. So let's all make an effort to protect those around us because this virus looks like it may stick around for a while, and the damage is just barely coming to light. Stay safe out there.

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9/23/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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