Early in the COVID days, it was becoming apparent that an infection increased risk of heart problems. People with complications are listed among the long haulers. Common symptoms are: palpitations, dizziness, chest pain and shortness of breath.
COVID tends to be primarily a respiratory disease but other organs and tissues can be affected as well. It isn’t always easy to tell respiratory problems from heart problems but these are factors to consider as you try to figure this out.
Decreased Lung Function Will Affect the Heart
If the lungs are compromised, it is harder to oxygenate the blood so the heart works harder to push more blood. And of course, the heart itself might be getting a little less oxygen creating more stress on the heart muscle, valves and heartbeat controls.
COVID Can Attack the Heart Directly
In some cases, the cause of the heart problem is from the COVID virus attacking the heart muscle itself leading to inflammation (myocarditis). Sometimes the heart becomes damaged from an overactive immune response as the body attacks the heart muscle like an autoimmune response.
This attack on the heart muscle can lead to weakened heart muscles and cardiomyopathy.
COVID tends to attack the inner lining of blood vessels. Inflammation of this lining tends to lead to growth of plaques, loosens plaques and this triggers blood clots.
The Heart is Subject to a Cytokine Storm
You may have heard the term cytokine storm. This where immune factors called cytokines build to such a point that that the targeted tissues are damaged in the attack. It is sort of like a small house fire with 30 firetrucks showing up and spraying so much water that it damages the house.
A cytokine storm can affect the heart rhythm and death is too common in these situations.
A fairly easy check to find your pulse in your wrist or neck and note if the beats per minute and if the rhythm is steady or erratic. If you note a rapid heart rate (maybe 110 beats per minute or higher), irregular heartbeat, light headedness or chest discomfort is reason enough to get some medical help.
More on Shortness of Breath
Oxygen saturation monitors are not expensive and anyone monitoring their health should have the information available when they need it, not just when they are in a doctor's office. Same is true of a blood pressure monitor.
In general, shortness of breath is a huge red flag. Showing up at the ER or Urgent Care complaining of this should get you to the front of the line.
More on chest pain
Not all chest pain is a big deal but if it shows up with shortness of breath or some dizziness, you need to have this checked out ASAP.
Chest pain when you inhale might be a sign of lung inflammation.
Sometimes POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) is found in people recovering from COVID. This means your nerve control system is affected. Also look for other signs and symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, heart palpitations and maybe dizziness.
Heart Attack and Covid
Heart attack is a very general term so we need to be more specific. The type of heart attack caused by COVID caused blood clots seems to be rare. Heart attacks caused by a combination of stresses on the heart like fast heart rate and low oxygen is more common in COVID patients.
Children Can Have Heart Problems From COVID
Even children can have heart complications from a COVID infection. This will be part of MIS-C or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Some of these children enter a long COVID phase with cardiac problems.
When COVID was first identified as a global issue, I made a few predictions, most of which were wrong but one was accurate. I said that we would know a lot about it in 5 years as it takes time to study these issues. Like I always say, I was not particularly afraid of COVID but was wary of long COVID.
Some COVID Stats
Compared to control groups, those who tested positive for COVID were found to be:
72% more likely to be diagnosed with coronary artery disease
63% more likely to have a heart attack
53% more likely to experience stroke
About 3 million people in the US have developed heart problems as a result of COVID.
To our knowledge, neither Mary nor I have had COVID to date. We took the steps that we considered reasonable.
We kept dosed up on vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, melatonin and NAC with ALA. That’s N-acetylcysteine and alpha lipoic acid. We wore masks in high contact areas like stores and airports. We got the mRNA vaccines. I have been watching information about that type of vaccine technology for several decades and was glad to see those excellent results. We always take a lot of vitamin C with any vaccine. I am selective in the vaccines that I think are reasonable for me but never get one without 5 g or so of C 5 days or so afterwards. I don’t think vaccines are as benign as some have implied but with a little vitamin C help, they aren’t as horrible as some say either.