Novel Coronavirus is a respiratory virus but it’s becoming clear that it may injure the heart of severely ill patients and substantially increases their risk of death. A recent study revealed that 12% of the patients hospitalized for severe COVID-19 infections had a complication.
The findings of the recent study are published in the journal, JAMA Cardiology.
Chinese doctors found that among 416 hospitalized patients, nearly 20 % developed damage to their heart muscles. More than half of them died.
They have already warned about the heart injuries as they said heart injuries appear common in infected patients, particularly in those patients who already have heart diseases of high blood pressure.
The American College of Cardiology has already the clinical guidance to cardiologists. It highlights the additional risks to heart patients among other things. It tells cardiologists to be prepared for assisting other doctors caring patients who are severely ill with COVID-19.
Head of the Science and Quality Committee of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Thomas Maddox said that they are anticipating that patients suffering from underlying cardiovascular disease will struggle.
The novelty of this virus means that it is not clear how to best manage severely ill patients. Currently, standard medications and devices are being used to provide cardiac support to them.
The importance of prevention is more obvious now. People with existing underlying heart diseases such as a history of heart attacks and strokes should consider themselves at greater risk and should be vigilant about protecting themselves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are living in a community with this viral outbreak should stay at home as much as possible. Meanwhile, all other high-risk people should sanitize their hands often, disinfect surfaces and should maintain social distance if going out.
In this study, out of 82 patients who developed heart injury, 60 per cent had high blood pressure. Around 30 per cent of the patients had a history of coronary heart diseases while around 15 per cent has a chronic cardiac failure.
Former President of the American Heart Association, Dr Elliot Antman said that it is hard to say whether high blood pressure is only a risk factor for heart injury. He added there is no information about the patient’s blood pressure that whether it was under control with medication or not.
According to the study outcomes, among all the patients who sustained cardiac damage, only over 51% died, compared with 4.5% of the patients without heart injury.
The reason behind this complication that novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on the hearts of some patients is not obvious. Doctors are not sure about the reasons. One suspect is the reaction of the immune system to the coronavirus infection. If it gets out control, usually called ‘cytokine storm’, it may damage the organs. Another possibility is that in people who already have underlying heart diseases, the overall stress of this viral infection harms the heart muscles.
Maddox said that it is also possible that novel coronavirus may directly invade the heart. Researchers say this virus effectively attaches to the receptors on the body cells called ACE2. These receptors are present not only in lungs but also in other body parts including digestive tract and heart.
There have been speculations that common drugs including ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers might make people more vulnerable to become ill with COVID-19. But it is based only on the research conducted on animals which suggest that drugs can boost the activity of ACE2 receptors.
Researchers stressed that people should their prescriptions regularly since poorly controlled cardiac diseases or high blood pressure would be dangerous especially now.