COVID-19 and heart disease

Why Heart Disease and Hypertension Put Patients at Greater Risk of  Contracting COVID-19

Current estimated incubation period of COVID-19 ranges from 2 to 14 days. The spread of COVID-19 only happens after symptoms of infected patients manifest. Each infected patient could averagely transmit disease to 2-4 people, depending on seasons and population density in particular areas.   The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 disease vary ranging from mild to severe conditions. Presenting signs and symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, fatigue or malaise, muscle ache, headache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Life-threatening manifestations are pneumonitis, pneumonia, heart failure and eventually death.

Medical researched published on The Lancet strongly indicates that patients with chronic medical conditions, particularly heart diseases have greater risks of death if they become infected with COVID-19. Current statistical data points out that up to 40% of patients who died from COVID-19 have cardiovascular diseases and neurovascular diseases e.g. brain aneurysms and stroke. When these particular patients are infected with COVID-19, the infection leads to cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat (17%), myocardial infarction defined as irreversible death of heart muscle (7%), circulatory failure (9%) and acute kidney failure (4%).  In addition, researches reveal that risks of death from COVID-19 disease significantly increase in patients who have underlying diseases. Medical information derived from 138 infected cases in Wuhan, China indicates that infected patients who required intensive care have underlying diseases: hypertension (58%), diabetes (22%), cardiovascular diseases (25%) and neurovascular diseases (17%). In terms of provided treatments, 76% of patients infected with COVID-19 needed oxygen therapy, 13% of patients needed non-invasive ventilation (e.g. face mask) while 4% of infected patients required mechanical ventilators. In severe cases, 3% of patients required  ECMO machine (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) that supports for both the lungs and the heart.

Since chronic medical conditions significantly increase the risks of death from COVID-19 disease particularly in the elderly aged over 60 with cardiovascular and neurovascular problems, annual health checkups and lifestyle modifications that enhance immune function are highly recommended. Blood lipid and blood sugar levels must be strictly controlled in order to reduce risks of developing coronary artery disease. Unhealthy habits e.g. physical inactivity and smoking must be also avoided.

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