Opinion

Kenny: COVID-19’s connection to heart disease

Posted 5/11/21

In the past year, COVID-19 has become one of the top five causes of death.

While the Coronavirus alone can take such a terrible toll on the body, it can be even worse for those with …

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Opinion

Kenny: COVID-19’s connection to heart disease

Posted

In the past year, COVID-19 has become one of the top five causes of death.

While the Coronavirus alone can take such a terrible toll on the body, it can be even worse for those with cardiovascular disease.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared that patients with cardiovascular disease are six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19. And, about 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have a cardiovascular disease, making it the most common underlying condition.

Unfortunately, many people put off getting their annual check-ups or avoid going to their primary care provider hoping a symptom may go away on its own. This has caused many people to be unaware they have a heart condition…until it’s too late.

Because we now know coronavirus can cause damage to the heart, it has shone a light on heart health and the importance of getting those regular check-ups to ensure a healthy heart, mind and body.

In addition to those with heart complications, COVID-19 can also affect patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. The combination of an underlying condition with the coronavirus can be detrimental. Underlying cardiovascular complications specifically have contributed to roughly 40% of all COVID-19 related deaths.

For those who do have cardiovascular disease, is there anything they can do to help prevent further damage? The answer is yes. For the same reason it is important for heart patients to get the flu shot each year (because getting the flu on top of having a heart disease is more likely to cause additional complications), it will be equally as important for those patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Whether vaccinated or not, many individuals who recover from COVID-19 are left with additional cardiovascular damage and other health complications.

Many heart patients are also avoiding going into the hospital when they have an issue for fear of being exposed to COVID-19. However, it is much safer to come in and get treated rather than sticking it out at home. The consequences of not treating a heart attack or stroke could lead to far bigger problems.

Experts are also predicting an increase in the rates of cardiovascular disease within the next few years alone, solely because of the long-term effects from COVID-19. Complications such as myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle) can lead to heart failure down the road.

The importance of hearth health is undeniable, now more than ever. Don’t let it, or COVID-19, cause future health complications when there are preventative measures available.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Katherine Kenny is a certified adult nurse practitioner and current president of the Phoenix American Heart Association Board. She regularly works with the American Heart Association to help raise awareness of hearth health through a variety of initiatives, including the annual Phoenix Heart Ball, which has raised more than $40 million in 62 years to support the AHA’s lifesaving mission. For more information on the 2021 Phoenix Heart Ball, taking place on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2021, visit phoenixheartball.heart.org.

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