Does Covid-19 increase risk of heart attack? Top doctor lists out warning signs
Eminent cardiologist Dr. Naresh Trehan in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times's Kumkum Chadha spoke on warning signs and preventive steps that heart patients should look at when the second wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is infecting people of all age at a rapid pace. Dr. Trehan cited instances of heart attacks in many patients without any pre-existing history of any heart-related ailment. Here’s what he said:
HEART PATIENTS AT RISK
At least 15-20% of patients are getting affected by the virus in their heart, the cardiologist noted. While patients with a history of heart-related illness or those who had stents installed in their hearts or have undergone a bypass surgery are found to be seeking medical help for enhanced symptoms after they contracted coronavirus disease, what is worrying is that in some cases patients with no pre-existing history of cardiac ailment reportedly got an attack, Dr. Trehan said, adding that in most cases patients complained of chest pain and could be rescued but in some instances, the attacks so quick and acute and they could not be revived. "Their heart function goes to 10-15%, exposing them to the severe risk of fatality", the doctor said.
YOUNG PATIENTS WITH NO PRE-EXISTING HEART AILMENT GETTING ATTACKS
“What are we seeing this time as opposed to the last time (the first wave of Covid-19) is that younger people are getting more affected than older people with a known history of heart ailment,” Dr. Trehan said. He cited alarming instances where young patients suddenly develop pulmonary edema — fluid accumulation in the tissue and air spaces of the lungs, leading to impaired breathing and eventually respiratory failure — and almost 70% of them get acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), making the chance of their revival thin.
“This viral wave is different from the first one which is fatally affecting young people as low as 33 years old with no earlier signs of a heart disease,” he said.
TIMELY MEDICAL INTERVENTION CAN SAVE LIVES
The doctor said in most cases, by the time when such patients are referred to a speciality hospital it becomes too late. “Only if such patients are taken to a hospital on time and put on ECMO support that the patients can be supported for a couple of weeks with the hope that they will recover.”
He warned that the caution that young people will have to adopt during the pandemic is the same as those in the older and vulnerable group need to.
ANXIETY HAS A ROLEPLAY. DE-STRESS
Dr. Trehan further said anxiety plays an important role in patients infected by coronavirus infection. He said anxiety makes the body’s adrenaline go up, thus spiking the blood pressure and in the process increasing the heart rate, which can be detrimental for a patient infected with the virus.
The doctor suggested the people follow a three-step process to get relief from anxiety. “One, you must exercise to keep your immunity up; two, you must do de-stressing techniques daily no matter whether you are infected or not; and the third is to maintain a healthy nutrition by consuming at least 30-40 grams of protein every day.”
He also suggested the people try yoga and breathing exercise to keep their body at ease.
WARNING SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
The noted cardiologists also spoke on warning signs that every heart patient must look out for.
He suggested those with pre-existing heart ailments watch out for heaviness or shortness of breath and simultaneously check their oxygen saturation on a pulse oximeter before consulting a cardiologist for guidance.
“You must not take these situations lightly,” he said, further warning people against copying prescriptions of patients with similar symptoms.
VACCINES SAFE FOR HEART PATIENTS
Dr. Trehan also stressed that the vaccines against coronavirus are safe for patients with heart ailments. He, however, advised the people who take blood thinners to inform the vaccinators about it. “Although the medicine does not need to be adjusted most of the time, the vaccinators are trained to administer the doses in a specific manner on a person if they inform the medical staff if they on blood thinners. The vaccinator will put constant pressure for three minutes or so on the site of the injection.”
The cardiologist said communication between patients and their doctors need to be intense during this time to mitigate any inherent risk.
DON’T RUSH TO HOSPITALS
The doctor appealed to the people not to rush to the hospital unless the situation calls for it. “There is no such thing as preventive care. Constant monitoring is what is needed.
Dr. Trehan had earlier, too, said most patients suffering from the coronavirus will recover from home if they start their medication on time. “As soon as your RT-PCR report comes positive, my advice would be to consult your local doctor. All doctors nowadays know the protocol and will begin your treatment accordingly,” Dr Trehan had said last month.
The interview comes at a time when healthcare centres across the country are overwhelmed to cater to an exponential rise in the number of critical patients infected with the coronavirus disease amid shortages of oxygen and essential drugs.
The country is struggling to produce and distribute enough doses of Covid-19 vaccines to stem Covid-19 as a long list of states are complaining of shortages, leading to the delay in immunisation drive.
India on Sunday recorded 403,738 new cases of Covid-19 infection and 4,092 related deaths in a single day, according to data updated by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. With the latest addition, the total Covid-19 caseload has now soared to 22,296,414.