While heart disease has been one of the largest health concerns in India, COVID-19 has significantly exacerbated cause for concern, experts said on Monday, 21 February.
"Heart disease and COVID are intricately linked. If you remove the 'O' and 'I', COVID becomes CVD. COVID-19 is like a stress test for the heart."Dr Ramakanta Panda, Cardiac Surgeon, Head, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai as told to IANS
Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy passed away on the morning of 21 February from a heart attack, at the age of 49. Reddy had recently recovered from COVID-19. Doctors suggested that the two may have been connected.
So what's the link between COVID-19 and heart disease?
How Does COVID-19 Affect Heart Health?
Cardiologists explained that COVID affects the heart in two ways: first it blocks the coronary artery, and second it leads to weakening of the heart muscles.
COVID can cause a full blockage in people who already suffer from a partial blockage. In people with no prior blockage or history of clots, COVID can lead to sudden clots, resulting in a heart attack.
If the heart muscles gradually weaken they won't be able to pump blood. This leads to breathlessness, and a heightened risk of heart attack.
Typically, COVID-19 causes heart conditions in smokers, people above 60 with some form of blockage in their body, or people with co-morbidities like hypertension, obesity, or diabetes.
According to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal in February 2022 even a mild case of COVID-19 can increase a person's cardiovascular risk for a year or more after the diagnosis.
Researchers add that the chances of heart failure, stroke and other potentially life-threatening conditions were substantially higher in people who had recovered from COVID-19 than in people who hadn't contracted the disease.
They believe that COVID unmasks silent cardiac risk symptoms in people with no previous diagnosis or history of heart disease.
(With inputs from IANS.)