Published on February 23, 2022

COVID19 and your heart

COVID-19: Matters of the Heart

Much has been discovered about COVID-19 and its effects on the body since its onset in early 2020. It turns out, the heart isn’t spared.

“COVID-19 can affect the heart in a multitude of ways,” says Michael Chen, MD, an interventional cardiologist with Adventist HealthCare. One of the more common effects of COVID he sees are heart attacks.

“With COVID-19, there is a higher chance for the blood to clot in various blood vessels,” Dr. Chen says, “including in the arteries of the heart.” A COVID-19 patient can also have a higher chance of heart failure, myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscles, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Why does COVID-19 have an effect on the heart?

One possible explanation is oxygen saturation.

“With coronavirus, the oxygen saturation levels drop, which causes stress on the heart and can result in some of these heart issues,” Dr. Chen says. COVID-19 also causes an inflammatory state in the body, which can then affect the heart directly.

If I had COVID, what should I look out for?

How do you know if you may have a lasting heart problem post-COVID? According to Dr. Chen, there are a few things to look out for:

  • Persistent shortness of breath
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Consistent leg swelling
  • Heart palpitations

Because COVID-19 does affect the lungs, which can cause many similar issues, the best way to determine if you are experiencing a heart problem is to speak with your cardiologist.

What are the best ways to avoid these cardiac issues?

The best way to avoid COVID-related heart injury is to avoid COVID-19 in the first place. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can not only help prevent you from catching the virus, but if you do, can help lessen symptoms.

Eating a heart-healthy diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine can also help keep your heart strong.

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