Latest findings on the dangerous consequences of COVID-19 to health

A new study shows that COVID-19 patients have a higher risk of heart problems than those who don't get COVID-19 despite being cured for months.

Months after contracting SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 patients remain at high risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular problems, according to a new study published Oct.

Accordingly, this risk is not only observed in people who have had severe COVID-19 cases, but also in those with mild illnesses that do not require hospitalization.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.

More than 43 million Americans – and more than 234 million worldwide – have contracted and recovered from COVID-19. These patients may suffer additional heart-related illnesses over the next few years.

The authors of the new study wrote: "Strategies for caring for COVID-19 patients after an acute episode should include a cardiovascular health care strategy."

Heart problems in COVID-19 patients

Most previous studies on heart damage in COVID-19 patients have focused on hospitalized patients. But the new study looked at people with mild COVID-19 who were treated on an outpatient basis.

In addition, the new study also followed patients for a longer time than previous studies - 8 months to more than a year after contracting the virus.

Months after contracting SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 patients remain at high risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular problems, according to a new study published Oct. (Illustration)
Months after contracting SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 patients remain at high risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular problems, according to a new study published Oct. (Illustration)

To determine how COVID-19 affects the heart, the researchers examined the electronic health records of more than 151,000 US veterans who survived COVID-19, including those hospitalized, admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) and did not require hospitalization.

The researchers compared these patients with two similar groups of veterans who did not have COVID-19.

Most of the patients were Caucasian and male, which may be one of the limitations of the study's findings when applied to other groups, the authors write.

The researchers found that months after contracting the virus, COVID-19 survivors had a higher risk of cardiovascular problems than the group without COVID-19. Specifically, a 48% higher risk of stroke, a 79% higher risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a 61% higher risk of heart attack, and a 73% higher risk of heart failure.

These risks are higher for people with severe COVID-19. But even outpatients have a higher risk of heart problems.

People admitted to the ICU are nearly six times more likely to develop any cardiovascular condition than those who don't have COVID-19.

For patients who were hospitalized but not admitted to the ICU, the overall risk was about 3 times higher. Non-hospitalized patients had a 1.4 times higher risk.

Factors that affect the risk of heart problems

As an observational study, the researchers could not conclude whether COVID-19 directly increases cardiovascular risk.

But another study found a similar link between COVID-19 and heart problems.

Zoë Hyde, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Western Australia, wrote on Twitter: "Research comes from a prestigious group, showing that COVID-19 causes people to experience a range of chronic health problems and this occurs to a greater extent and more frequently than seasonal flu.

Scientists are still trying to determine why people who have had COVID-19 have a higher risk of heart disease, even months after infection.

Causes under consideration are persistent damage that occurs when the coronavirus infects cells in the heart, or an ongoing overreaction after the coronavirus causes further damage in the body.

The authors of the study published October 5 pointed out that indirect factors may also play a role, such as the impact of lockdowns, social distancing, job loss, changes in habits diet or physical activity levels during a pandemic or the death of a family member.

The social, economic, and other stressors experienced by COVID-19 patients "may contribute to cardiovascular problems," the researchers wrote.

Google Tech News - Healthline

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