According to Covid, the risk of heart problems remains elevated for up to a year
According to Covid, the risk of heart problems remains elevated for up to a year

According to Covid, the risk of heart problems remains elevated for up to a year

As far as Michelle Wilson knew, she had recovered from Covid-19.

Wilson, 65, contracted the virus in November 2020. Her illness, she said, was mild, and she felt ready to return to work as a nurse in St. Wilson. Louis in early December.

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That was when her heart problems began.

“I literally woke up one morning and my heart was pounding and beating irregularly,” Wilson recalled. “I had intense chest pain.”

Fortunately, Wilson did not have a heart attack. But she developed long-term heart problems, including high blood pressurewhich puts her at risk for further cardiovascular problems.

Despite her age, she had no previous medical history indicating that she was at risk for heart disease – except for Covid-19.

In fact, it appears that coronavirus can leave patients at risk for heart problems for at least a year after infection, according to one of the largest analyzes of post-Covid health effects to date.

The study was published last week in Natural medicinefound that the disease increased the possibility of cardiac arrhythmias, as well as potentially fatal blood clots in the bones and lungs, the year after an acute infection.

Covid also increased the risk of heart failure by 72 percent, heart attack by 63 percent and stroke by 52 percent – even among those like Wilson, whose original illnesses were mild.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said he and his colleagues expected to see some increase in heart problems after Covid, but assumed it would be largely limited to people whose health was not robust in the past.

The increased risk remained when researchers took age and race into account, he said.

“It was a bit of a moment for us when we realized it was evident in all of these subgroups,” Al-Aly said, “including younger adults, older adults, black people, white people, people with obesity and those without. “

“The risk was everywhere,” he said.

Al-Aly’s team examined the number of new heart problems among 153,760 Covid patients for up to a year after their illness. The participants were patients who had sought care in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and most were white men.

Cardiovascular outcomes were compared with two control groups: 5.6 million people without Covid and a further 5.9 million patients whose data were collected before the pandemic began.

Covid-19 patients in this study were infected before vaccines were available, so it is unclear how the shots could alter the results.

But doctors at the forefront of treating Covid and its effects suspect that vaccinations reduce heart risk because they generally reduce Covid infections.

“I have been caring for patients with heart problems” after the Covid-19 infection, said Dr. Steve Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The vast majority are unvaccinated.”

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That Covid-19 appears to increase long-term risks of cardiovascular problems is not surprising to physicians. Other viruses, such as influenza and certain enteroviruses, have long been known to carry the same risks.

“Anyone who is hospitalized with any kind of pneumonia that they get in the community has these risks for six to 12 months,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association. “The open question for me is, is this something unique about Covid? Or is it the same story we already know?”

Covid’s heart risks may appear with more regularity just because the virus spread so quickly.

“It’s very worrying because so many people will get Covid in the next few years, however, and so many have already got it,” said Dr. Jennifer Haythe, Co-Director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. “This can really increase the burden of cardiovascular disease across the board.”

Al-Aly’s research is not the first to suggest long-term heart risks after Covid-19.

ONE examination of cured Covid patients in Germany found that 78 percent of patients had cardiac abnormalities. Swedish research, also found an increased risk of heart attack and stroke after Covid-19.

It is not entirely clear how Covid can cause heart problems in the long term, although it is known that the virus can affect blood vessels throughout the body and in several organs, including the heart.

For Wilson, the irregular heartbeat has passed.

She has had to sleep almost upright for several months.

“It got so bad that when I went to bed I could not sleep because my heart was so erratic,” she said.

Her doctors are now monitoring her for signs of heart failure.

Regardless of infection, so is the pandemic itself increases the risk of heart disease.

“Too many patients are delaying getting back to their routine in the healthcare system,” Lloyd-Jones said. “We’ve seen marked increases in overall blood pressure levels, weight gain, worsening diabetes control, and all of these things contribute to increased risk.”

Anyone whose Covid recovery stalls or who experiences a sudden onset of new symptoms, such as chest pain, intense muscle weakness, or shortness of breath, should call 911 immediately, Lloyd-Jones said.

It’s not just red flags, he said. “It’s flashing lights.”

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