After Covid, risks of heart problems remain elevated for up to a year


As far as Michelle Wilson knows, she has recovered from Covid-19.

Wilson, 65, was infected with the virus in November 2020. She said her illness was mild and she was ready to work as a nurse in St. Louis by early December.

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That’s when her heart problems began.

“I literally woke up one morning, and my heart was irregularly competing and beating,” Wilson recalled. “I had severe chest pain.”

Fortunately, Wilson had no heart attack.However, she developed long-term heart problems, including: High blood pressureExposing her to the risk of further cardiovascular problems.

Despite her age, she had no previous medical history suggesting that she was at risk for heart disease, with the exception of Covid-19.

In fact, according to one of the biggest analyzes of post-Covid health effects to date, coronavirus may put patients at risk of heart problems for at least a year after infection.

A study published last week Nature medicineDiscovered that the year after the acute infection, the disease increased the likelihood of arrhythmias and could lead to fatal blood clots in the legs and lungs.

Covid also increased the risk of heart failure by 72%, heart attack by 63%, and stroke by 52%. Even among people who were originally mildly ill, like Wilson.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who is the lead author of the study, hopes that he and his colleagues will have some elevated heart problems following Covid. It wasn’t robust before, saying it was supposed to be primarily limited to healthy people.

When researchers described age and race, he said the high risk remained.

“It was a short moment for us to realize that it was obvious in all these subgroups, including young adults, the elderly, blacks, whites, obese people, and non-obese people,” Alary said. Said.

“Risks were everywhere,” he said.

Al-Aly’s team investigated the incidence of new heart problems in 153,760 Covid patients for up to a year after getting sick. Participants were patients seeking care within the Department of Veterans Affairs, mostly white men.

The cardiovascular outcomes were compared with the two controls. There are 5.6 million non-Covid patients and 5.9 million patients who collected data before the pandemic began.

The Covid-19 patients in this study were infected before the vaccine was available, so it is unclear how shots could change the outcome.

However, doctors at the forefront of Covid’s treatment and their effectiveness suspect that vaccination generally reduces Covid infections and thus reduces the risk of the heart.

Dr. Steve Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said he “cared for a patient with a heart problem” after the Covid-19 infection. “The majority are not vaccinated.”

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It’s not surprising to doctors that Covid-19 appears to increase the long-term risk of cardiovascular problems. Other viruses, such as influenza and certain enteroviruses, have long been known to carry the same risks.

Dr. Donald Lloyd Jones, President of the American Heart Association, said: “The unanswered question for me is, is this something unique to Covid, or is it the same story we already know?”

Covid’s heart risk can manifest itself more regularly simply because the virus spreads very rapidly.

Dr. Jennifer Hayes, co-director of the Center for Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Irving Medical, said: New York center. “This can totally increase the burden of cardiovascular disease.”

Al-Aly’s study is not the first to suggest long-term cardiac risk following Covid-19.

A study It was found that 78% of Covid patients recovered in Germany had heart abnormalities.Sweden research, We also found that Covid-19 was followed by an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

It is known that the virus can affect blood vessels in multiple organs, including the whole body and the heart, but it is not entirely clear that Covid can cause heart problems in the long run. ..

For Wilson, the arrhythmia has endured.

She had to sleep almost upright for months.

“It was terrible and when I lay down, my heart was so unstable that I couldn’t sleep,” she said.

Her doctor is currently monitoring her for signs of heart failure.

The pandemic itself, regardless of infection Increases the risk of heart health problems..

“Too many patients are delaying their return to daily life in the healthcare system,” Lloyd Jones said. “There is a marked increase in overall blood pressure levels, weight gain, and poor control of diabetes, all of which contribute to increased risk.”

Lloyd Jones says people who have stagnant recovery in Covid or who are experiencing the sudden onset of new symptoms such as chest pain, severe weakness, and shortness of breath should call 911 immediately. ..

They weren’t just warning signs, he said. “They are blinking lights.”

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