From the moment it came onto the world stage, COVID-19 was widely thought of as a respiratory illness. And by and large, along the way in our growing understanding of the virus, physicians and scientists have seen that the coronavirus is not only causing respiratory distress but also affecting other major organs, including the heart.
In fact, for some patients, severe COVID-19 can produce effects that mimic heart attack. Physicians who have looked closer at this have discovered that some patients whose electrocardiograms indicated they had experienced heart attacks in fact did not. More than half of the patients were not found to have had any blockage of a major artery, which is the most common cause of heart attack. Yet even though there had been no heart attack, the damaging effects on the heart muscle were clear, real and, in many cases, fatal. These types of findings shine a light on the fact that what we are learning about COVID-19 is that it is a very complicated disease.
It is true that some of these patients contract the coronavirus with pre-existing heart disease, putting them at greater risk for coronavirus heart complications. We can also safely assume that some COVID-19 patients have underlying heart problems that haven’t yet been diagnosed. For these people, the risk of coronavirus heart complications is greater.
But there are some people who don’t have any heart problem but experience these heart-related coronavirus complications. So far, we’re learning that this can happen because COVID-19 causes stress, inflammation, and even direct injury to the heart and other organs.
What can you do?
Those with chronic heart conditions are at greater risk of complications or even death from a potential coronavirus infection. For that reason, Laredo Emergency Room urges you to take all the essential precautions, including keeping your hands and high-touch surfaces clean, maintaining distance from others, avoiding large crowds, and wearing a cloth face mask. But as someone living with a chronic heart condition, you should also take some extra for the prevention of heart attack:
-Be sure you’re getting enough sleep, which may help keep inflammation and blood pressure in check.
-Keep your exercise regimen moderate, unless your cardiologist recommends otherwise.
-Seek treatment for any respiratory illness, and be sure to get your flu vaccine and keep your asthma under control, if you have it.
-Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
-Eat several light, heart-healthy meals throughout the day instead of fewer heavy meals.
-Avoid polluted air by staying in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible.
-Do you best to keep your emotions in check and care for your mental health.
Symptoms to look for
Whether you suspect or know you have coronavirus, if you experience heart attack symptoms or signs of heart failure, you should seek emergency treatment. Heart attack signs can include:
-Sensation of pressure, squeezing, fullness, discomfort or pain in the center of your chest.
-Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
-Shortness of breath.
-Nausea or lightheadedness.
If you experience these or any heart-related symptoms, come to Laredo Emergency Room right away. We’re keeping ourselves safe so that we can care for you when you need us most.