As per the American Heart Association, COVID-19 may have a long-term effect on the heart. Having a heart condition doesn't make a person more likely to catch COVID-19, but an individual with heart disease or a serious heart condition is more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19 and has a higher risk of death. Research showed that heart damage may persist even after the patient recovers, and in some cases, that damage may be long-lasting. As per the ongoing survey, people who are dying with SARS-CoV-2 virus are often dying of heart problems rather than respiratory problems. 19% or roughly one in five patients hospitalized with COVID-19 showed signs of heart damage. The disease was more fatal for those who suffered heart damage. Those with pre-existing heart conditions were likely to show heart damage due to COVID-19, but there were also patients with no history of heart disease showed heart damage from COVID-19. People may develop the following heart conditions once exposed to COVID-19:
- Myocarditis and heart failure: People who are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus may develop acute swelling of the heart muscle called myocarditis. In this condition, the virus may infect the cells of the heart causing the muscle tissue to undergo severe swelling. This may alter the electrical conduction in the heart, affecting its ability to pump blood around the body. So, less oxygen is reaching to various organs in the body including the lungs (heart failure).
- Cardiogenic shock and heart attack: A condition in which the heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, which is usually caused by a severe heart attack.
- Pericarditis: Infection of the heart lining or covering, which may cause chest pain and abnormal heart rhythms.
- Other conditions: Heart may sustain an injury due to swelling triggered by the immune system's response to the virus. Patients with severe COVID-19 infection also appear to have a higher tendency to have blood clots within the blood vessels. This can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Doctors may be able to monitor the severity of heart injury measuring the levels of various substances in the blood, such as troponin. This protein is usually found in the heart. It is released into the bloodstream when there is a significant heart injury, such as during a heart attack.
COVID-19 virus is considered cardiotropic because of its affinity to attack the heart. The virus connects with cells through an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, which is a spike-shaped enzyme. The enzyme is found on cell surfaces throughout the body. In patients with underlying heart disease, there are a greater number of these receptors on the cell surface, which may result in a greater number of virus particles entering the cell causing significantly more heart-swelling than in people without heart disease.
What are the common organs that are affected by COVID-19?
COVID-19 virus may infect multiple organs. The virus enters the cells by binding to receptors, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. These receptors act as the site of entry and are found in the cells of multiple organs, making it easy for the virus to enter. The most commonly affected organs include:
- The lungs are the most common organs affected
- Heart and blood vessels, which may turn fatal
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is recognized as the third human pathogen causing a severe respiratory syndrome after SARS-CoV and Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV1.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of taste and smell
Less frequent symptoms of the illness include:
- Body aches and pains
- Runny nose
Serious symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- High recurrent fever
- Severe shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Elevated heart rate (above 100 bpm)
- Severe weakness
What are the treatment options for COIVD-19?
There are currently no approved treatments for COIVD-19. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is being used in mild cases and as a prophylactic drug, however, multiple large clinical trials show HCQS does not show benefits in the treatment. Below are a few other potential drugs and treatments that are being researched:
- Antibiotics: Ivermectin, Doxycycline, and Azithromycin
- Antiviral: Favipiravir and Remdesivir
- Steroids: Dexamethasone and Methylprednisone
- Convalescent plasma therapy: An off-label therapy and may work best when given early in the treatment cycle.
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