Since the onset of the pandemic doctors and epidemiologists have been observing COVID-19 and its effects on heart health. While people who don’t have underlying heart disease can still contract severe forms of COVID-19, individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD) are more than twice as likely to develop a severe form. After recovering, over 10% of patients continue to experience health issues, oftentimes more than a month after initial infection. Today we’ll look at how COVID-19 affects the heart and some tips to keep your heart healthy.
Long Term Effects of COVID-19 On Your Heart
How does COVID-19 affect the heart? New studies suggest it can damage the heart in more ways than one. Once the virus enters your body it invades and inflames the heart muscle. Because of the high levels of inflammation circulating as your body fights off the virus your body releases inflammatory molecules called cytokines into the bloodstream. This process can damage multiple tissues and organs, including your heart. COVID-19 has also been shown to:
- Disrupt oxygen supply – COVID-19 disturbs the balance between oxygen supply and demand. Because of the increased oxygen demand, stress on the heart intensifies, leading to heart damage. This is worse for individuals who already have unhealthy heart arteries or muscles.
- Elevate heart rate – Fever, dehydration, and infection can increase your heart rate, all of which can occur from COVID-19.
- Blood clots – A heart attack usually occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart. COVID-19 raises the risk of this type of heart attack.
- POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) – Some people recovering from COVID-19 experience this neurological problem. POTS affects the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and circulation. POTS can cause rapid heartbeats after you move from sitting to standing.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Because survivors of COVID-19 have experienced some degree of heart damage even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease, many doctors are advising patients to focus on the importance of heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to lower your risk. Below we’re sharing some smart tips on how to keep your heart healthy:
- Schedule regular cardiologist check-ups – Visiting your doctor regularly for heart screenings can help detect potential heart problems before they develop into something more serious.
- Eat a balanced diet – Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats into your diet can help keep your heart healthy. Avoid processed foods, salt and sugary beverages.
- Practice regular exercise – To keep your heart in the best shape possible, aim to exercise at least 30 minutes a day four to five times a week.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 can seem insufferable but you can lower your risk of severe complications through a healthy lifestyle and regular examinations from your doctor. If you’ve been searching for reputable local cardiologists in your area reach out to the staff at AMS Cardiology and schedule an appointment today.