Dr Anand Kumar Pandey, Director and Senior Consultant- Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital writes on how COVID-19 is leading to cardiac problems and how more awareness needs to be spread to remind during the upcoming World Heart Day observed on September 29.
The entire world is in the grip of COVID 19 infection. Rising number of infected patients every next moment is one of the major concerns of the time. Social distancing, precautions for prevention have emerged as new normal. SARS -COV2, is primarily a respiratory disease but in a large number of cases it is leading to cardiac problems in our country. Awareness on how to combat both is necessary, as the virus can cause worse outcomes in patients with pre-existing CVD risk factors or in those with established CVD.
What exactly is Cardiac Disease? :- Major function of the heart is pumping of blood after purification and oxygenation in lungs. Now when this basic functioning of the heart is obstructed it leads to a number of heart diseases, results can vary as per the seriousness and complexities of the disease. One can also be born with it and it can develop due to other diseases and unhealthy habits, food patterns and smoking etc.
Now coming back to the COVID pandemic, a number of COVID patients are reporting with heart block. A study suggests serious COVID patients are at 10 times risk of developing heart diseases. Hence take extra precaution and lead a healthy life in order to lower the risk.
There are a few standard risk and well established risk factors for blockages in the heart. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol level, family history of heart disease and smoking.
Obesity – particularly abdominal obesity can predispose to heart disease both directly as well as indirectly – by increasing the incidence of high blood pressure and blood sugar.
Diabetes (high blood sugar) – in particular it is a very major risk factor in India and its incidence is rapidly increasing in both rural and urban India. Not only do diabetics have a higher incidence of cardiac blockages, they also have more complex and difficult to treat blockages.
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If one is suffering from any of the above risk factors, they should be more cautious and get themselves regularly evaluated. It is also extremely important to follow the treating doctors’ advice and take your prescribed medicines on time as well as follow all life style advice.
COVID-19 AND THE HEART: – Talking about SARS -COV2 and heart disease, it has two way association. Patients with COVID 19 infection have a higher incidence of heart diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure and various types of electrical problems of the heart. On the other side, many established heart patients are now suffering from unexpected complications due to untimely follow up with doctors because of fear of infection in hospital premises. Hence heart patients need to be regular with their medication and prescription and also have regular follow ups with their treating doctors. Don’t ignore even a minor symptom and stay in touch with your concerned doctor.
COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a bigger risk for cardiac patients. During this pandemic heart patients are not only more at risk of infection rather their treatment process was also disturbed due to the lockdown and fear of infection. Talking about my own experience one of the patients lost his life as he did not come to the hospital on time due to the same fear of getting infected.
We need to understand this in detail :-
Heart Patient and COVID infection: – Most heart patients have lower immunity hence they are surely at the risk of getting COVID infection. Hence they need to be more aware in this regard.
Heart patient infected with COVID: – COVID is primarily is a respiratory illness but any respiratory disease in its serious form potentially develops the risk for heart diseases as its functioning is connected with the lungs.
Fear of COVID and Cardiac disease :- As we are witnessing a rising number of infected cases everyday a fear of infection has developed in a section of society, same as with some heart patients as well. But in this process some of the patients chose not to come to the hospital in required time in the fear of COVID infection and their condition worsened.
COVID pandemic and Negativity :- Emotional factors also play a major role in cardiac patients’ life. Stress or depression can potentially worsen the condition of a cardiac patient. Since in the time of COVID pandemic social distancing was mandatory, people were facing economic crisis and the lockdown had restricted a number of human activities, this all combined added to the risk of heart disease.
Hence considering every related risk factor following should be kept in mind especially in regard to cardiac diseases:-
- Keep checking your BP, make sure your blood sugar is in control.
- Be in contact with your concerned doctor and tell her/him about every update regarding your disease.
- Do go to the hospital if the doctor suggests. Don’t ignore your disease because of fear of infection. Take along only one adult with you for help so that there will be lesser risk of overcrowding and follow every required precaution.
- Exercise daily. Some exercise patterns suggested in Yoga, Pranayama also lower the risk of heart diseases. If you are already a heart patient then takes your concerned doctor’s suggestion first in this regard.
- Take extra care of your food habits. Keep the nutrition value high; make a diet plan with your concerned doctor’s suggestion.
- Keep a positive outlook towards life. Take your mental health seriously and consult a specialist if you face any related issue.