Cases of post-Covid heart ailments rising in Delhi, say doctors

Updated on Feb 23, 2022 02:32 AM IST

A significant volume of Covid recovered adults over the past two years are experiencing higher heart risk, including palpitations, blood clotting, cardiomyopathy and even breathlessness

Health experts advise that people who have recovered from Covid need to be extra cautious during recovery period. (Representative image/HT Archive)
Health experts advise that people who have recovered from Covid need to be extra cautious during recovery period. (Representative image/HT Archive)

Just weeks after recovering from Covid-19, a two-year-old child was admitted at a city hospital after developing highfever and complained of breathing trouble.

“Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, the child had a heart arrest. It is especially disturbing for me as a doctor because he is just two years old. Further examinations revealed that due to complications, he had developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare disorder in which his own body was killing multiple organs. As a result, the lungs, heart, brain and kidneys had suffered considerable damage,” said Dr Sayed Mustafa Hasan, senior consultant and head (paediatrics and neonatology) at Aakash Healthcare. It took over a month for the child -- who was also unable to pass urine, experienced speech difficulty and loss of eye contact with others -- to recover from this near-death episode.

Dr Hasan attributed the child’s plight to post-Covid complications. While Covid-19 has been known to weaken heart muscles in adults -- several studies have observed elevated levels of cardiac troponin, a marker of heart muscle injury -- its impact on children has not been adequately studied yet.

Doctors in the national capital said that a significant volume of Covid recovered adults over the past two years are experiencing higher heart risk, including palpitations, blood clotting, cardiomyopathy and even breathlessness and these complications are being reported in higher numbers post-pandemic.

Dr Mukesh Goel, senior consultant (cardiothoracic and vascular surgery) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital said that the number of consultations for post-Covid cardiac complications like myocarditis has been increasing.

“People undergoing post Covid recovery are facing such complications due to the inflammation and widespread intravascular thrombosis caused by the virus. Patients suffering from such complications become more prone to report cardiovascular diseases anytime within a year of their recovery from the virus,” Dr Goel said.

He added, “Preventive health check-ups are indeed necessary. People are advised to not miss their pre-scheduled visit to the doctors and take timely preventive health diagnosis, to stay away from any approaching health ailments. With the same, a balanced diet, required sleep and physical exercise are always a bonus.”

A research study by scientists at US’s Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, published earlier this month also reiterated that even a mild case of Covid-19 can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems. Researchers also noted that rates of heart failure and stroke were substantially higher in people who had recovered from Covid-19 than among those who had not contracted the disease. The study highlighted that people who recovered from Covid-19 were at a higher risk of contracting cardiovascular problems within a year of infection.

“There are studies that have noted an increased risk of heart attacks and arrhythmia among Covid recovered patients. A recent analysis, which is quite comprehensive, showed that the hazard ratio in Covid recovered patients was 1.7 times higher in case of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), two times higher for inflammation of the heart muscle or membrane that surrounds the heart, 1.66 times higher for damage or disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart and 1.72 times higher for other cardiovascular diseases. Personally, we are seeing increased cases of arrhythmia a little more than heart attacks,” said Dr Sumit Ray, head of department (critical care), Holy Family Hospital.

Health experts advise that people who have recovered from Covid need to be extra cautious during recovery period.

“Patients of all age groups need to take it easy while recovering from Covid. Many patients, especially of the younger age groups, immediately start with rigorous exercise and physical activities after getting better. That needs to be avoided. We are still learning about the complications of the virus and it is best to go slow. Major hospitals should also set up separate departments, which specifically deal with post-Covid complications, so that there is clearer studies in these areas,” said Dr KK Talwar, senior cardiologist and former president of Medical Council of India.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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