COVID-19 increases risk of heart attacks, strokes: DAK

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SRINAGAR — Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said that COVID-19 infection increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

“If you catch novel coronavirus, you are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said DAK President, Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

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“COVID is known to damage the lungs, but there is emerging evidence over the effect of this viral infection on the heart and the brain,” he said.

Quoting a recent study published in New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Nisar said that 44 percent patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 infection had heart attack.

“Earlier studies have also shown that 20-30 percent of patients hospitalized due to COVID infection had cardiac complications,” he added.

Dr Nisar said that we know pre-existing heart disease is a risk factor for higher mortality in COVID patients, but recent evidence shows that the novel virus can cause heart injury even in people without underlying heart issues.

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“Lung injury has taken the centre stage as the most dreaded complication of COVID, but heart damage has recently emerged as yet another grim outcome in the virus repertoire of complications,” he said.

“More people actually die of heart disease rather than pneumonia,” Dr Nisar said.

“Cardiac complications have been found to contribute 40 percent of deaths related to COVID-19,” he said.

Dr Nisar said researchers from the University of Cincinnati and three Italian institutions have found that 31 percent patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection experienced stroke.

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“Another study published in New England Journal of Medicine has reported five cases of large vessel stroke as a presenting feature of COVID infection in patients who were younger than 50 years of age,” he said.

Dr Nisar said COVID-19 infection causes acute and severe inflammation throughout the body that builds up fat deposits in the inner walls of blood vessels. These fat deposits dislodge and get stuck in the heart or brain, where they block the blood flow.

“COVID infection activates blood cells and clotting system leading to increased risk of blood clots,” he said.

“The new findings would help doctors to recognize red flags in patients with COVID-19 infection and provide earlier intervention and save lives,” said Dr Nisar.

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