We all know how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world. But while many areas of life have returned to a state of relative normalcy, the toll it’s had on other areas, like heart health, continue on.
It’s pretty well known that the respiratory system is one of the primary areas impacted by this particular virus. However, we’re also seeing that COVID-19 can have a significant impact on other systems, including the heart. How? Let’s see what the latest research has to say.
COVID-19, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, primarily affects the respiratory system. However, the virus can also infect other organs, including the heart. One of the top concerns is that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart muscle, which can then result in a range of other heart-related complications.
According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology, up to 78% of patients who had recovered from COVID-19 showed signs of heart damage on cardiac MRI scans, and this included scarring and inflammation of the heart muscle.1 Another study found that COVID-19 patients who had pre-existing cardiovascular disease were at a significantly higher risk of mortality than those without cardiovascular disease.2
As startling as this can be to discover, what's most important is to know there's a lot that can be done to lower the risk of complications caused by COVID-19. By leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, we always put ourselves in a much better position.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Heart Health
COVID-19 can have a range of negative effects on heart health, including:
Myocarditis. This is an inflammation of the heart that can cause chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. COVID-19 can cause myocarditis, which can lead to heart failure if left untreated.
Arrhythmias. COVID-19 can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, which can be potentially life-threatening if left untreated.
Acute Coronary Syndromes. COVID-19 can also cause other acute coronary syndromes, which are conditions that cause a reduction in blood flow to the heart.
Thrombosis. Blood clots are another possible complication of COVID-19, which can block blood vessels and lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Tending to Your Heart During and After COVID-19
Follow Up with Healthcare Providers
Manage Risk Factors
Pre-existing heart conditions and COVID-19 can both be exacerbated by risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. Managing these risk factors through lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting good sleep, can improve heart health and reduce the risk of complications. Enroll in any of Cardiogram's habits for added accountability.
Getting Good Sleep
Just like we consistently need a good night’s sleep to function at our best, our hearts need that same rest. Especially after experiencing COVID-19, the heart really needs proper sleep to get the chance to slow down and recover. You can keep track of your sleep with your sleep tags in Cardiogram as well as enroll in any of our Sleep Quality habits.