COVID-19 leaving its impact on the heart

Coronavirus

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As we continue to learn about coronavirus, emerging data is now showing that one of the most powerful damages is its effect on the heart. This brings up a new concern, not only for people with underlying heart conditions, but even those who have a healthy heart before catching the virus.

“The COVID infection would affect the lungs first so when that happens you are forcing the heart to do extra work because you have decreased oxygen supply in the lungs because of the disease,” said Dr. Nassar Adjei, a cardiologist at Baptist Health-Fort Smith.

For one mom, heart disease hits all too close to home. Chrissy Fitzgerald and her two sons were all born with Congenital Heart Disease; a defect coming from a hole in the heart that requires open-heart surgery at a young age.

“As a mom I was pretty devastated I thought there was something I did wrong,” Fitzgerald said.

With technology and new studies over the years, the future is hopeful for the family. However, new studies showing COVID-19 requires extra heart strength gives them even more reason to need to be protected from catching this virus.

“Those people depending on the type that they have the heart is already overworking itself they already have overcompensated just to survive,” Dr. Adjei said.

Dr. Adjei says despite the new data, much more research is needed to determine what else it could do to affect cardiovascular health.

Cyd King, the Communications Director of American Heart Association, says statistics show 40% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying heart conditions. As the heart health of more and more people continues to decline as a consequence of the virus, the American Heart Association has taken action to try and help researchers find more answers.

“We got on it early we invested $2.5 million to investigate the cardiovascular implications of coronavirus and the amount of those research dollars is sure to go up as we investigate further,” King said.

Dr. Adjei says one key element to fight this virus is to build up our cardiovascular reserve. This refers to the strength of one’s heart and the ability to build it up now so it is prepared and has enough energy down the road to fight something like Coronavirus. This can be done by adopting healthy habits like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, routine check-ups with your physician, etc.

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