Despite the fact that COVID-19 is considered an illness of the lungs, many patients who contract the new coronavirus experience cardiac issues.
Up to 1 in 5 patients with COVID-19 have signs of heart injury, regardless of whether or not they had respiratory symptoms.
Though a good portion of these patients already had underlying health issues involving the heart, like heart disease or high blood pressure, many otherwise healthy patients have also developed heart problems, including blood vessel injuries, blood clots, arrhythmia, strokes, and heart attacks.
The high incidence of cardiac problems in patients who contract the coronavirus has had physicians stumped: How could a respiratory infection inflict so much damage on the heart.
It boils down to a few factors. The widespread inflammation the infection causes, the possibility that the virus directly infects and injures the cardiovascular system, and the overall stress the infection puts on pre existing heart conditions. 45 recent reports pertaining to COVID-19 and cardiovascular complications and found that the coronavirus can cause lasting heart impairments. In addition, the experimental drugs used to treat COVID-19 — like hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir — may cause heart damage in some patients and worsen pre existing heart issues in others. Researchers hope the new findings will inform how emergency physicians screen and treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Still, more research is needed to confirm exactly how the coronavirus affects heart function, and which patients with COVID-19 are most at risk for running into heart troubles.