The impact of coronavirus on cardiovascular disease
According to the American College of Cardiology, which launched a bulletin to guide health professionals on the subject, among patients hospitalized by the new coronavirus, 50% had chronic diseases and 40% had cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease.
The new coronavirus is a family of viruses known since 1960, which suffered a genetic mutation and ended up becoming something that had not yet been identified in humans. Transmitted through the air and through close contact with infected people, COVID-19 can have cold-like symptoms, progressing to severe cases of acute respiratory failure. People over 60 years old or who have respiratory, cardiovascular or diabetes diseases are more likely to contract the disease. According to the WHO, for this population, the institution advises greater care in avoiding crowds or places with sick people.
According to the American College of Cardiology, which launched a bulletin to guide health professionals on the subject, among patients hospitalized by the new coronavirus, 50% had chronic diseases and 40% had cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease. Among the fatal cases, 86% had respiratory involvement, of which 33% had associated cardiac involvement and 7% had isolated cardiac involvement.
Coronavirus and cardiovascular disease
Viral infection leads to a series of reactions responsible for unbalancing cardiovascular diseases that were previously compensated. According to Dr. Felix Ramires, cardiologist and coordinator of the Heart Failure program at HCor, patients with previous cardiovascular diseases sometimes have alterations in their immune system in addition to a latent chronic inflammatory state, which can aggravate the evolution of the disease. In past pandemics due to respiratory viruses, mortality from cardiovascular diseases surpassed all other causes, surpassing pneumonia in other situations.
“Patients with chronic diseases, hypertension, diabetes and who have already had a heart disease such as a heart attack or have undergone cardiovascular surgery or who have heart failure are a higher risk group. In this group there is a predisposition to develop the severe form of the disease, not specifically to be contaminated by covid-19”, he advises.
Caring for people with heart disease
Care is the same for everyone. However, as this is the group of patients who have the highest risk of developing the severe form of the disease, even if they only have hypertension or diabetes, prevention must be doubled so that they do not acquire the disease. “Therefore, they should avoid crowds, whenever possible, work from home, avoid close contact with people who have returned from places where the outbreak is more prevalent. Home isolation of this group is recommended so that they are not contaminated with the virus”, explains Dr. Ramires.
In addition, other viral pandemics such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) have caused myocarditis and rapidly progressing heart failure, signaling that the coronavirus may have the potential to infect the heart in isolation. “These viruses have been implicated in decompensation of coronary artery disease with plaque rupture and acute myocardial infarction.
The Ministry of Health even anticipated the flu vaccination campaign in Brazil. It is essential that this population is vaccinated, as the flu can be confused with the symptoms of COVID-19 infection. And a worrying factor is the combined infection of coronavirus and influenza, which can aggravate the patient's health, ”he says.
When should I go to the emergency room?
When you have flu symptoms, fever and tiredness, shortness of breath and fatigue, in the case of heart disease, if this diagnosis is early, treatment can help so that they do not develop the most severe phase of the coronavirus.
Tips from the HCor cardiologist regarding the coronavirus
Due to its high contagion power, in addition to remaining outside the human body for a long time, personal prevention measures, such as hand washing, for example, are a priority and should be encouraged in patients with heart disease, especially in places where the focus of contamination is larger.
“Elderly people are less likely to have fever, so coughing, dyspnea, myalgia should be taken into account in this population. Treatments suggested in guidelines for patients with heart disease may offer additional protection in these cases and should be evaluated on an individual basis. Influenza and pneumonia vaccines must be up to date in this population, with the aim of avoiding a secondary infection if affected by the new coronavirus”, says the cardiologist at HCor.
It is recommended to screen patients infected with COVID-19 who have cardiovascular, kidney, lung and other chronic diseases for priority care. “The symptoms of an acute myocardial infarction or heart failure decompensation may be masked by the symptoms of the new coronavirus. That is why it is important that the