Covid linked to potentially deadly heart problems

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It’s now clear that Covid-19 spells trouble for both the neurological and physical systems. Studies have started to reveal a lot about the mechanisms at play, and inflammation seems to play a big part. New research has shown that higher levels of inflammation of the heart tissue of Covid patients could make them more susceptible to serious heart complications.

According to the latest research, those who contract coronavirus may have a 55 percent higher risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack.

The findings suggest that other complications like irregular heartbeats and myocarditis are also more likely among the infected.

Researchers at Columbia University made the discovery while studying changes in the heart that occur during infection.

Professor Andrew Marks, of Columbia University in New York, said: “The more awareness you build around particular aspects of a disease, the more likely you are to improve the care of patients.

“Doctors should be aware of heart changes related to Covid-19 infections and should be looking for them.

“We want to really figure out what’s causing the heart disease and how to fix it.”

The new findings are set to be presented at the 67th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting in San Diego, California, on Monday.

Researchers hope that by unravelling the mechanisms underpinning cardiac complications, they may be able to sharpen treatments.

For the study scientists analysed the heart tissue of Covid patients who had died of the virus.

The researchers observed several changes to the heart tissues including the death of heart cells and blood clots.

It also transpired that these patients had noticeably higher levels of inflammation and unstable calcium.

Though calcium is best known for its role in bone health, it also plays a major role in keeping the heart healthy.

Particles of the mineral enter the heart muscle cells during each heartbeat and contribute to the regulation of electrical signals.

“The heart’s system for managing calcium ions is essential for the coordinated contractions of the atria and ventricles that pump blood throughout the body,” explains Eurekalert.

Without enough calcium in the blood, the body can suffer irregular heartbeat or heart failure.

Mice were also included in the study to see how their hearts reacted to the virus, compared to the hearts of non-infected rodents.

The team found that infected mice had markers for cardiomyopathy, a term that describes diseases of the heart muscle.

In these diseases, the heart struggles to pump blood to the rest of the body, which can result in heart failure.

By understanding these problems, the team hope healthcare providers will be better equipped to diagnose and treat the issues effectively.

Understanding the cardiac complications of the virus could also guide public health officials to make more informed decisions about how to respond to the Covid pandemic.

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