How Cardiovascular Health Affects COVID-19 Prognosis
Dr. Dara K. Lee Lewis recently wrote an article for Harvard Medical School reporting on how cardiovascular disease may increase the risk of severe illness and death for those who contract COVID-19. While most patients will experience mild flu-like symptoms, there’s about 10% to 20% who will need hospitalization.
Reports from China identify the respiratory effects of COVID-19 and how pneumonia and difficulty breathing can lead to serious complications, including a rapid worsening of cardiovascular health. Many patients suffer from a heart attack or congestive heart failure as they battle the virus.
Cardiovascular Health and COVID-19
Dr. Lewis points out in the article that many patients may appear to be having a heart attack, but are really suffering from inflammation of the heart muscle, also known as myocarditis. This causes the heart muscle to weaken and leads to dangerous heart rhythms.
The issue is doctors do not know how to treat patients who suffer from this complication of COVID-19 because they are not sure if it’s the virus or an overactive immune response to the virus.
Approximately 10% of patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease will die from COVID-19 compared to only 1% of people who have good cardiovascular health. Patients with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (CAD) are most at risk of dying from the virus.
People who suffer from heart problems aren’t the only ones who should consider the effects COVID-19 can have on them. The elderly are also considered at high risk of suffering from serious illness and death because of age-related changes to the heart.
This may include:
- Arrhythmias, which causes an irregular heartbeat (rapid or slowed).
- Heart chambers increase in size and the heart walls thickens limiting the amount of blood the chamber can hold.
- Conditions such as thyroid disease can lead to weakening the heart muscle.
How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Complications
The only way to decrease the risk of dying from COVID-19 is to follow the safety protocols released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This includes frequently washing your hands, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible.
It’s also important to ensure flu and pneumonia vaccines are up to date. Any illnesses can reduce immune system functioning. This also means avoiding any situations in which the risk of contracting any virus is a possibility.
Many people who suffer from COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show any signs and symptoms of the virus. They can spread the virus to others, though. The virus in others can lead to serious illness and death, which is why one of the biggest initiatives during the pandemic is to stop the spread of the disease.
Other ways to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19 are:
- Get an adequate amount of sleep.
- Manage stress effectively.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Exercise daily.
As we move forward in this pandemic, know that City Hospital is here for you every step of the way providing information and care to everyone who needs it. Together, we can overcome COVID-19 so we can return to our healthy and happy lives.