COVID-19 can Cause Lingering Heart Damage

COVID-19 can Cause Lingering Heart Damage

Recently, a worrisome COVID-19 study out of Germany’s University Hospital Frankfurt found that 76 of 100 recovered COVID-19 patients had damage to their hearts typically found in patients who had a heart attack despite being “mostly healthy” prior to their illness. Likewise, 60% of the patients had heart inflammation, called myocarditis. Nearly 80% had persistent structural abnormalities to the heart that were pronounced even weeks after their illness, raising concerns about long-term effects of the disease. 

Experts are learning more about the virus initially thought to be mainly a respiratory illness. COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome” virus, was initially thought to impact primarily the lungs. Now, emerging data has shown that some of coronavirus’s most damaging impact is to the heart.

This week Georgia State Quarterback Mikele Colarsurdo announced that he would not be playing football this year due to his heart condition resulting from his COVID-19 infection. Although the freshman athlete’s diagnosis was not released publicly due to privacy laws, myocarditis, which can pose a risk for sudden cardiac arrest, has been detected in at least 15 players in the Big Ten. Dr. Jonathan Kim, an Emory sports cardiologist, said when myocarditis is detected in a student athlete, a minimum three months of no high-end physical training is recommended.

Likewise, Eduardo Rodriguez, 27, who was poised to start as the No. 1 pitcher for the Boston Red Sox this season, has been taken off the roster due to COVID-19-associated myocarditis.

In May, The Pentagon had considered banning enlistment for individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 entirely. An  interim guidance issued by the Department of Defense (DoD) that would have made military recruits who had been infected with coronavirus “permanently ineligible” was later rescinded. Military medical professionals were trying to determine whether damage from the virus is long-lasting or permanent, and whether that can be assessed. Other considerations included the likelihood of recurring flare-ups and the possibility that one bout of COVID-19 might not provide full immunity for the future.

Read on for a related article about vitamin D’s role in immunity and vitamin D-deficiency in COVID-19 illness on our blog, “Study: Can Vitamin D help fight COVID-19 illness?”

COVID-19 No. 3 Cause of Death in U.S.

COVID-19 is now the No. 3 cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer, although fatalities are decreasing. The pandemic has claimed more than 180,000 lives in the past six months of 2020.

vitamin-d3-k2-with-bioperine-immune-support-supplementSince the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been clear that people with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease-related conditions are at increased risk for severe Covid-19 illness. Nearly 25,000 more Americans have died of heart disease since the pandemic started in February compared with the same period in previous years. While COVID-19 accounts for some of the excess deaths, cardiologist Dr. Haider Warraich said in a New York Times Opinion Piece that another major way that COVID-19 has spread heart disease is likely through deferral or interruption of routine care.

Warraich said the success of immunosuppressants such as the steroid dexamethasone, which has been shown to reduce mortality in COVID-19, may be by reducing inflammation of the heart. Dr. Warraich is a researcher and doctor at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“Doctors and researchers should no longer think of Covid-19 as a disease of the lungs but as one that can affect any part of the body, especially the heart,” Warraich said. “The only way to prevent more people dying of heart disease, both from damage caused by the virus as well as from deferred care of heart disease, is to control the pandemic.”

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