Heart Health

How COVID-19 Changes the Heart—Even After the Virus Is Gone?

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, changing how we live our lives in unprecedented ways. While initially thought of the virus as a respiratory disease, we're now discovering its effects go beyond the lungs. In particular, there is growing evidence that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart - even in people who were otherwise healthy. This article will explore how COVID-19 changes the heart and provide tips for staying healthy after recovering from the virus.

A recent study published in JAMA Cardiology found that up to 78% of people who recovered from COVID-19 showed evidence of heart damage on MRI scans, even if they had not been hospitalized for the disease. The study included 100 people who had recovered from COVID-19 and showed that they had lower levels of heart function than a control group of people who had not contracted the virus. Another study published in Nature Medicine found that the virus can cause significant inflammation in the heart, leading to tissue damage that can impair its ability to pump blood effectively.

There are several reasons why COVID-19 might damage the heart. For one, the virus can directly infect heart muscle cells and the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, the body's immune response to the virus can overreact and cause inflammation in the heart and other organs. Over time, this inflammation can lead to scarring and damage that can impact the heart's ability to function correctly.

One of the most concerning aspects of COVID-19's impact on the heart is affecting people who were previously healthy with no underlying heart conditions. This means that even young, otherwise healthy people could be at risk for long-term heart damage from the virus. Additionally, people hospitalized for severe COVID-19 symptoms may already be at increased risk for heart damage due to the stress on their bodies from respiratory illness.

At this point, it's still unclear what the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart may be. Some people may recover fully and experience no long-term complications, while others may experience ongoing heart problems that require treatment. However, the evidence suggests that anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 should be monitored for potential heart problems, including frequent check-ups and heart imaging tests if necessary. Additionally, people who have recovered from COVID-19 should prioritize heart-healthy habits, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

COVID-19 can cause cardiac complications, including:
These complications can significantly impact the quality of life for patients, even those who have recovered from COVID-19. The good news is that most patients who experience cardiac issues after recovering from COVID-19 can fully recover with appropriate medical care and lifestyle changes.

One of the patients' most essential steps to keep their hearts healthy after recovering from COVID-19 is to exercise regularly. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of future heart attacks or strokes. Patients recovering from the virus should aim for low-impact activities such as yoga, walking, or swimming and monitor their heart rate and oxygen levels while exercising.

Another critical factor in maintaining heart health after COVID-19 is a healthy diet. Research has shown that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Conversely, a diet high in saturated fats, sodium, and processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease. Patients who have had COVID-19 should aim for a diet emphasizing whole, unprocessed foods and limiting the intake of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

Getting enough sleep is also critical for maintaining heart health. Sleep plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate, and lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Patients who have had COVID-19 may experience sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, making it more challenging to recover from the virus. To promote good sleep hygiene, patients should establish a regular sleep schedule, limit screen time before bed, and create a relaxing sleep environment.

Finally, patients who have had COVID-19 should prioritize stress management. Chronic stress has been linked to various adverse health outcomes, including heart disease. Patients may benefit from relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to manage stress. Other effective stress management strategies include engaging in hobbies or activities that promote relaxation, spending time with loved ones, and seeking support from a mental health professional if needed.

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the world, and medical professionals are still learning about its long-term effects on the body. One of the most concerning impacts of the virus is its impact on the heart. With growing studies that suggest long-term heart damage even in people who have not had underlying heart conditions, we must take this potential effect of COVID-19 seriously. Patients who have had COVID-19 should be vigilant about monitoring their cardiovascular health and seek medical attention if they experience any of the symptoms we outlined in the introduction. By following the tips outlined in this article, patients can take steps to maintain their heart health and reduce their risk of heart disease in the future.

Respectfully yours,