COVID-19 is well known to affect the lungs, but it can also affect the heart. If you have heart disease, you may be at an increased risk for severe complications from COVID-19. How COVID-19 affects the heart is an ongoing topic among researchers, who are constantly learning more about the disease.
At CA Heart and Vein Specialists, cardiovascular physician Majed Chane, MD, wants heart patients to be aware of the risks COVID-19 poses. If you’re under care for a heart condition, continue following your current treatment plan, and be sure to come in to see us if you’re concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your heart.
COVID-19 and heart health
There are a number of concerns related to COVID-19 and the heart. Contracting COVID-19 can cause fever and inflammation, placing extra stress on your heart as your body fights the infection.
Viral infections are a common cause of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, and it appears that COVID-19 is no different. Contracting COVID-19 significantly increases your risk of myocarditis.
The greatest concern is that an inflamed heart muscle may have a much harder time circulating blood throughout your body, leading to potentially serious complications.
If you develop myocarditis, you may experience:
Severe myocarditis can weaken your heart and cause blood clots to form, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Post COVID-19 heart problem risk
While myocarditis is a concern during an active COVID-19 infection, there are several heart health concerns that can occur after you recover. Contracting COVID-19 increases your long-term risk for:
- Heart failure
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Ischemic heart disease
- Non-ischemic heart disease
These risks occur even in mild cases of COVID-19.
Risk of heart problems remains elevated for at least a year
If you contract COVID-19, Dr. Chane works closely with you to monitor your heart health, prevent complications, and take prompt action should a problem arise. Research into the effect of COVID-19 on heart health has found that COVID-19 raises the risk of heart problems for at least a year after you’ve recovered from the infection.
Don’t let your guard down. Give us a call if you develop new or worsening symptoms.
Keeping your heart healthy
Even if you don’t have COVID-19, we know the ongoing pandemic is a stressful time. For patients with heart problems, the pandemic may be even more stressful.
We want patients to feel empowered and to take proactive steps to protect the heart. Reducing your exposure to COVID-19 is the best way to protect your heart from the potential complications of a COVID-19 infection.
Get vaccinated: If you haven’t done so yet, consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It is very effective at reducing your risk of severe illness if you’re infected.
Practice social distancing: Keep at least 6 feet apart from others when you’re in public places. Maintaining this distance does a good job of reducing the chances of tiny droplets reaching you when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks.
Continue taking medications: Unless you’re told otherwise, continue taking medications such as those that control high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Keeping up with your treatment plan helps to protect your heart.
Schedule regular heart checkups: Heart patients should work closely with a heart specialist and schedule regular checkups. Alert us right away if you test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19.
It’s vital for those with heart disease to take good care of their heart during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re concerned about your heart health, give us a call at our Huntington Beach, California, office to schedule a visit with Dr. Chane. You can also request an appointment online today.