How COVID-19 affects the heart: The short- and long-term risks

How COVID-19 affects the heart: The short- and long-term risks

Channel NewsAsia - Commentary·2023-09-23 08:01

During the first two years of the pandemic, from March 2020 to March 2022, there were approximately 90,000 more deaths in the United States attributed to cardiovascular disease than were expected for that span of time.

The majority of these occurred in people 65 and older – the age group with the highest risk for cardiovascular complications. But heart-related deaths also increased dramatically in younger adults. In fact, a study found that the sharpest rise in deaths from heart attack during that period occurred in 25- to 44-year-olds.

Some of these cardiovascular-related fatalities may have happened because it was harder to access medical care during the height of the pandemic. But physicians and researchers now have little doubt that COVID-19 itself was a factor. In addition to the complications that can occur during the acute phase of a COVID infection, there appears to be an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and other problems up to a year after an infection. Experts are now trying to understand why.

“There’s a very unique connection between this virus and the cardiovascular system,” said Dr Susan Cheng, the chair of cardiovascular health and population science at Cedars-Sinai, who led the study on heart attack deaths. “What is that connection? That’s the million dollar question.”


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