COVID-19 virus directly infects the lining of the blood vessels both carrying the pure blood to the organs (Arteries) and the impure blood from various organs to the Heart (Veins). This can also lead to blood clots in the veins of the leg leading to a condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. These clots may dislodge and move to the Lung vessels through Heart, blocking the blood supply to the Lungs. This is a condition called Pulmonary Thromboembolism and is life-threatening if it’s a large clot. In case similar clotting occurs in the arteries of the heart, it causes coronary artery disease and heart attack. If it affects the blood vessel of head then it may cause debilitating stroke. These clotting complications may occur in patients with even mild infection a few weeks or sometimes months after the recovery.

The virus may directly infect the muscles of the heart and can possibly lead to a condition called Myocarditis. Complaints of palpitation are quite common after COVID-related Myocarditis. Patients often show fluctuations in heart rate varying from fast to extremely slow for few weeks to months after recovery. Some patients tend to have a severe infection of the Heart muscle leading to extreme weakness of the heart finally resulting in heart failure. This can also lead to dangerously fast disturbances of Heart rhythm called ‘Arrhythmias’ and can result in sudden cardiac arrest.

The Heart and the blood vessels are particularly vulnerable when infected by COVID-19 virus and the risk persists for quite some time even after recovery. Post-COVID, a weakened heart can lead to heart failure which can give rise to shortness of breath and swelling all over the body and particularly in the feet. This can happen to people with pre-existing weak functioning of hearts. Although there are few therapies to minimise the complications, prevention of severe COVID-19 infection through a healthy lifestyle and control of pre-existing chronic illness is a more viable option. It is highly recommended to get yourself vaccinated as it not only protects you against coronavirus but also COVID-19 related heart and blood vessel complications.

It is important for people to follow the age-old golden triad of 25 minutes of exercise for five-six days a week on moderate intensity, a balanced diet, and positive mindset to keep their heart healthy.

Quick tips for maintaining heart health:

  • Stay active
  • Stay in touch with your doctor
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid stress
Dr. Sunil Sofat
Department of Interventional Cardiology
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