By Dr. Sunil Kumar, Consultant- Interventional Cardiology Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal (A unit of Manipal Hospitals)
India is in the second wave of COVID-19 while some countries are in the third wave and anticipating that the pandemic might not subside in the near future. In this crisis, we continue to learn more and more about the coronavirus and the impact it has on us.
Coronavirus leaves a lasting mark on the cardiovascular system
COVID-19 infection starts with droplets from an infected person's cough, sneeze and breath that can be transmitted through air or surface from where one gets infected and spreads it through the same means. You give way for the virus to the mucous membrane in your throat from where it moves down to the respiratory tract affecting the lungs. The virus can inflame the lungs leading to breathing difficulties. While most of the patients with Covid infection do not need hospitalization and can be treated at home isolation, growing research studies suggest that the virus leaves a lasting mark on the cardiovascular system.
The inflammation caused by the infection can weaken the heart muscles and lead to abnormalities in the heart rhythm. Hospitals have been witnessing a rise in incidents of heart-related problem in COVID-19 recovered patients where in it is observed that most of them are in the age group of 30-50. Covid recovered individuals experience systemic hypertension, minor palpitation, arrhythmia, heart failure, blockage of the pulmonary artery, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events like stroke. In some cases, the heart might function normally but the pulse rate might fluctuate. It's not that all corona recovered people will suffer heart problems. The intention here is not to create panic among people but to caution them to be extra careful so that they do not dismiss the symptoms which might otherwise help in early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Do not ignore these warning signs
· Light headedness
· Sudden Palpitation
· Recurrent Vomiting
· Chest pain
· Sweating without any physical exertion
· Difficulty in breathing
· Reduced ability to exercise
· Fatigue and weakness
· Loss of appetite
· Persistent cough
Covid recovered patients, especially those with a history of heart-related disease are strongly recommended to take up regular cardiac screening to evaluate the heart function and to spot any abnormalities. As in other cases, here also early detection holds the key.
The first thing you need to do if you notice any of these symptoms is to consult the doctor immediately. Do not assume that the symptoms will subside on their own or think of relying home remedies.
What can you do to keep your heart healthy?
· Keep your hypertension under control
· Check your cholesterol levels
· Do not put on excess weight
· Exercise regularly but go a little slow if you have recovered from Corona. Do not exert yourself to reach your pre-covid exercise goals all of a sudden. If you have any concern about resuming exercise consult your doctor.
· Choose a diet rich in fibre and protein like fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes etc
· Stay away from spicy and oily foods. Strict no to processed and junk foods loaded with salt and preservatives
· Do away with smoking and alcohol consumption
· Take your medication without fail
Safeguarding from the virus by taking vaccination and following Covid appropriate behaviour is crucial to maintain good health.