These post Covid illnesses can kill; doctors on how to avoid them

  • Covid survivors face a higher chance of dying than others for up to 6 months. From sudden cardiac arrest to liver damage, here are some deadly post Covid complications listed by experts.
Long term covid-19 complications can lead to significant morbidity and mortality(Unsplash)
Long term covid-19 complications can lead to significant morbidity and mortality(Unsplash)
Published on May 06, 2022 08:58 PM IST
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Long after the Covid infection subsides and the life resumes as usual, people may find themselves at risk of death due to an array of post Covid complications that range from respiratory failure, heart attack, brain stroke to kidney diseases. According to a study published in the journal Nature, Covid survivors face a higher chance of dying than others for up to 6 months after they contract the virus. A Washington University study finds even mild cases of Covid-19 increase risk of death in the six months post diagnosis. (Also read: XE variant: Watch out for these symptoms of Covid-19 in kids)

According to studies, Covid patients have an increased risk of stroke, nervous system ailments, mental health problems, onset of diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, blood clots apart from other complications. The chances of getting these long-term health problems increased with the disease severity.

"Long term covid-19 complications can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Many studies done in the US during 2020-21 have found that complications affecting vascular system, cardio-respiratory system and neurological system can even lead to mortality. Scientists from Washington University in St Louis have determined that development of blood clots and increased vascular inflammation can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, venous thrombosis and stroke," says Dr Charu Dutt Arora Consultant Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist, Head, Ameri Health, Asian Hospital, Faridabad.

Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, Consultant critical care medicine, and ICU director Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road says Coronavirus can take a toll on nearly every organ from lungs, brain, liver, to even heart.

Here are post Covid illnesses that can actually kill according to experts.

RESPIRATORY FAILURE

Respiratory issues are common post Covid manifestation as the virus is known to affect lungs. One needs to get tests done if facing any breathing dofficulty post Covid.

Dr Jibhkate says there are many people who have encountered life-threatening post-Covid issues such as acute respiratory failure wherein the lungs are unable to pump enough oxygen into the blood or might not take enough carbon dioxide out. Pneumonia is deadly as the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is also seen in some patients.

LIVER DAMAGE

As per CDC, some patients hospitalized for Covid-19 have had increased levels of liver enzymes — such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). This means a person's liver is at least temporarily damaged.

According to Dr Jibhkate, acute liver damage is also a common occurrence post Covid and which could prove deadly.

HEART ATTACK and STROKE

Heart attacks and stroke are on rise in post Covid patients. People with or without previous history of heart issues can get affected. It is important to be in touch with your physical post Covid and get required tests done.

"It is seen and as per the observational data the incidence of acute myocardial infarction or heart attack in lay man's language, cerebrovascular accident or brain stroke and sudden cardiac death has increased in the patients with post Covid-19 status," says Dr Satish Koul, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

According to Dr Jibhkate, apart from heart attacks, strokes, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), health issues like mucormycosis (black fungus), and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) can also prove to be deadly.

PREVENTION

Dr Charu Dutt Arora says it is advisable that patients post Covid-19 must see their physician regularly and get their level of inflammation and blood thickening check.

"A balanced diet, with enough fibre and fluid is a must for all post covid patients. Deep breathing exercises, following infection control measures and getting checked by physiotherapist is imperative to avoid sudden respiratory complications," adds Dr Arora.

"Go for regular health check-ups as suggested by the doctor, and monitor your lung, heart, and liver health by screening from time to time. Also, eat a well-balanced diet, stay stress-free and exercise daily to live a healthy life. Avoid taking any medication without the doctor’s knowledge as doing so can worsen your health. Do not skip any medication and follow the instructions given by the expert. If you notice any unusual signs like breathlessness or chest pain then do not ignore them and seek immediate treatment," says Dr Jibhkate.

Dr Satish Koul says one has to be more careful post Covid if they have underlying history or previous history of diabetes, hypertension, obesity or people who have been smokers.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2022