Although the apprehension of Covid-19 may have departed from our lives, the repercussions of this life-threatening illness persistently trouble us. Strain after Covid-19 is proving fatal for certain individuals. A number of youthful individuals perished while participating in garba during the most recent Navratri season in 2023, and reports suggest that these fatalities could be a consequence of Covid-19.
As indicated by news reports, six individuals perished due to heart attacks during garba gatherings in Gujarat, with one woman and a teenager among them. Moreover, an additional 22 individuals perished due to heart attacks during the same period in the state. Reportedly, close to 750 cardiac emergency calls were made between October 15 and October 22, 2023, according to data shared by the 108 ambulance service. State health minister Rushikesh Patel indicated that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) linked these fatalities to strain after recovering from Covid-19.
“ICMR has carried out a comprehensive study. According to this study, those who have endured severe Covid-19 infection should refrain from exerting themselves excessively. They should steer clear of rigorous workouts, running, and strenuous exercises for a brief period, approximately a year or two, in order to prevent heart attacks,” he was quoted as saying.
The connection between heart attack and Covid-19
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya recently referred to the same ICMR study, emphasizing that people should abstain from pushing the boundaries of physical activity for a duration following Covid.
Several studies have revealed links between heart ailments and Covid-19, citing it as one of the most significant long-term repercussions of the coronavirus. A study published in Nature Medicine expounds on the enduring cardiovascular effects of Covid-19. It specifies that individuals who suffered from Covid-19 exhibited an elevated risk of heart diseases from the initial 30 days post-infection up to a year.
Another study featured in The Scientist investigated how athletes encountered heart damage following Covid-19. The study found that athletes developed heart inflammation, a result of a condition known as Myocarditis, which could lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
How does Covid influence the heart?
Dr. Bipin Dubey, HOD and Consultant Cardiac Science, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, explains that a substantial percentage of individuals who have contracted Covid have experienced various cardiac problems. He mentions that this is due to their body having an increased inclination to form clots in blood vessels, resulting in heart attacks.
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“Approximately 15-20 percent of Covid-19 patients are encountering cardiac issues. The most common cardiac issue is a heart attack because of the heightened tendency to form blood vessel clots. This implies that the arteries supplying blood and oxygen to the heart become blocked, leading to a heart attack. In a minority of patients (3–5%), Covid directly impacts the heart muscle, causing weakness in the heart muscles and resulting in heart failure, known as Covid-induced cardiomyopathy,” he states.
This poses a greater threat to individuals who already have cardiac conditions. “Those patients who already have obstructions in the coronary arteries are more prone to developing blockages in the coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack,” he mentions.
Nevertheless, he adds that even without any prior history of cardiac disease, a heart attack can occur as a post-Covid complication. “In certain cases, even in the absence of prior blockages, normal coronary arteries become obstructed due to Covid. Therefore, the incidence includes both cardiomyopathy and the occurrence of heart attacks, which is between 15-20%,” he says.
How to prevent a heart attack following Covid-19
Here are some fundamental and practical measures that can be adopted to diminish the risk of a heart attack, according to Dr. Prateek Chaudhary, consultant interventional cardiology, Asian Hospital.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by adhering to a balanced and nutritious diet coupled with regular physical activity.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Manage underlying health conditions suitably and stay informed about Covid prevention guidelines and vaccination.
- Undergo regular medical check-ups and manage cardiac issues accordingly.
- Employ stress management techniques like meditation to tend to your mental health and prioritize overall well-being.
Other common after-effects of Covid
As indicated by a study published in Scientific Reports, the most common repercussions of Covid consist of fatigue, headaches, attention disorders, hair loss, and dyspnea, indicating a sensation of air scarcity and discomfort in respiration. The study also encompasses other consequences such as pulmonary diseases, cough, chest discomfort, sleep apnea, and pulmonary fibrosis, along with neurological disorders, including dementia, depression, anxiety, attention disorders, as prevalent after-effects of Covid.