Guard your heart, it’s Covid-19

By Kutlwisiso Setlogelo

Covid-19 is a severe disease that has claimed the lives of millions across the world without the development of effective treatment to stop it.  It has been reported that comorbidities increase the likelihood of developing serious and fatal outcomes. Particularly, cardiovascular disease (CVD) which is a group of heart and blood vessel disease including diabetes and high blood pressure, have featured most commonly in Covid-19 patients who have been in critical care or have demised. It is thus suggested that there is a link between a history of CVD and the outcome of Covid-19. However, this is deeply concerning because CVD in itself is the leading cause of death and disability globally. Therefore, urgent investigations need to be done to understand how SARS-Cov-2 further threatens the health of those with CVD.

A study by Nishiga et. al looked into several investigations that has been done up to this point. Research shows that Sars-Cov-2 exacerbates heart disease by causing further heart damage, giving rise to a heart attack. In fact, the rate of death due to Covid related-heart attacks is doubled in patients with a history of heart disease. So, what exactly is the mechanism? ACE2 is a receptor found on heart cells that allows for the invasion of Sars-CoV-2. With this said, samples were taken from the heart to assess if the heart damage was because of direct invasion of the virus. Only some studies found the virus in the heart cells as well as some immune cells which was suggestive of direct attack. Other studies suggest that the progression of heart attacks may be due to the reduction of ACE2 that happens after the cells are infected. The loss of ACE2 has been attributed with the narrowing of blood vessels, which compromises the supply of nutrients to the heart, leading to heart attack. The narrowing of the blood vessels is accelerated in the patients with uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure which explains why the rate of death is highest among these patients infected with SARS-Cov-2. Furthermore, other studies show that the immune response against Sars-Cov-2 may also contribute to affecting the flow of blood to the heart. With this said, if you are known to have a history of heart problems or have diabetes and high blood pressure, it is preferable that you stay at home. Given the fact that health resources are limited and a cure is unavailable, the only safe thing to do for oneself is to diligently follow regulations and restrictions because your life may depend on it.

References

Wu, J. C. (2020) ‘COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease: from basic mechanisms to clinical perspectives’, Nature Reviews Cardiology. Springer US. doi: 10.1038/s41569-020-0413-9.

Fitzmaurice, C. et al. (2019) ‘Global, regional, and national cancer incidence, mortality, years of life lost, years lived with disability, and disability-Adjusted life-years for 29 cancer groups, 1990 to 2017: A systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study’, JAMA Oncology, 5(12), pp. 1749–1768. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.2996.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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