Experts have noted a steep rise in the number of recovered Covid patients experiencing long-term heart problems such as “chest pain, sudden palpitation, heart attack, heart-swelling, heart failure, low pump capacity (low ejection fraction), and arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)”. To keep the heart healthy, post-covid patients must go for regular cardiac screening after every six months, stick to a healthy diet, stay physically active, and take medication, they say.
“After getting infected with coronavirus, many patients encounter chest pain, myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle), heart attack, heart failure, blood clotting, arrhythmia, and stroke. These problems may even be seen after many months of recovery. It was observed that 78 out of the 100 patients diagnosed with the infection reported symptoms of heart damage and inflammation,” says Dr Pramod Narkhede, cardiologist, Apollo Clinic, Pune.
As the body’s immune system fights the virus, the inflammatory process also ends up destroying healthy tissues. Covid has also led to cardiac injury in people who were free of any heart disease, they add.
“Many people experience shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations. Any of these problems could be related to the heart, but they could also be due to other factors, including the aftermath of being very ill, prolonged inactivity and spending weeks convalescing in bed. Around six out of 10 patients (who did not have pre-existing heart problems) seen in OPD are having post covid cardiac symptoms . The problems should be addressed and attended at the earliest. Those with pre-existing heart problems should be cautious and get regular medications and follow-ups done to prevent lethal complications,” Dr Narkhede adds.
What can one do?
Dr Keerthi Prakash Kotla, consultant pathologist, Apollo Diagnostics, Pune says that cardiac tests to know the functioning of the heart should be undertaken at the earliest. “ECG, X-Ray chest, and lipid profile should be repeated after six months in high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and hypertension. These tests will help to determine whether there is any damage to the heart. Don’t forget to go for regular follow-ups, too,” she tells indianexpress.com.
How can one maintain heart health?
To keep your heart healthy, opt for a well-balanced diet consisting of all the essential nutrients. Avoid spicy, oily, canned, artificial sweeteners and processed flavours, or junk food. Manage your hypertension and cholesterol by regularly monitoring them. Exercise daily to maintain an optimum weight, and cut down on alcohol and smoking. Do not ignore any abnormal changes occurring in the body, and seek immediate medical attention, concludes Dr Kotla.