70-year-old Mr. Sharma was home after a grueling 2 weeks in the hospital following COVID infection. He felt lucky to have survived the episode despite being diabetic and hypertensive. He did have pneumonia but pulled out of the ICU and was happy to be home, informed Dr. Gaurav Minocha, associate director- Cardiology at Max Super specialty hospital, Vaishali, Delhi NCR
"However, there was more in store for him as he started feeling mild chest discomfort and breathing issue which initially was ignored as gas and weak lungs post pneumonia. His oxygen levels were normal. However, due to the persistent complaints, he went to see a cardiologist who did an ECG and Echo." said the doctor
The doctor said that "He was aghast when he came to know that he had had a heart attack and heart muscle had been damaged. He was started on blood thinners and cardiac drugs. He was lucky to stabilize on medications although he was advised for an angiogram which he wanted to delay as he had enough of hospital stay"
He says "Increasing data have shown a significant risk of cardiac injury in COVID-19. Up to 20% of patients demonstrated cardiac injury, often associated with more severe disease. They were more likely to be older, to have pneumonia, and experience higher death rates."
A study of 100 randomly selected patients in Germany showed 78% had abnormal Heart MRI findings almost 2 months after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
While most coronavirus research has focused on short-term respiratory complications, particularly in critically ill patients, mounting evidence suggests that COVID-19 has a significant impact on the cardiovascular system by worsening heart failure in patients with preexisting cardiac diseases or by causing complications like heart attacks and clots in lungs even in people without pre-existing heart disease.
Dr. Minocha informs "It is therefore important to be vigilant of any symptoms like chest discomfort or breathing problems even after recovering from COVID."
"Patients who are prone to heart disease or have high blood markers for inflammation should be on blood thinners and other cardioprotective medicines to prevent cardiac complications. Regular check-ups after recovering from COVID infection should be done to detect such cardiac complications and cardiologists' involvement in care may be required in some cases," he said