QUITMAN, Texas (KLTV) - February is American Heart Month, which encourages people to be mindful of their heart health.
COVID-19 may be a respiratory disease, but it can also have detrimental impact on your heart. That’s because the heart and lungs work together. Your heart pumps blood to your body, while your lungs replenish your blood with oxygen.
According to Interventional Cardiologist, Augustine Njoku, when the heart muscles get inflamed it affects how the heart pumps blood and oxygen through the entire body.
“With the COVID-19 infection, there’s a mismatch between oxygen supply and demand,” Njoku said. “That puts a lot of pressure on the heart and sometimes that can lead to a heart attack that may mimic the classic heart attack that comes from having blockage of the arteries.”
Njoku said they are seeing issues in patients who are young and old, as well as those who show signs of COVID-19 and those who are asymptomatic.
“But what we don’t know now is the long term effects. So there are some respiratory journals who have published some studies saying that even with mild cases of it, mild symptoms of COVID, those patients also had heart inflammation that can cause heart damage,” Njoku said.
There are also those with what Njoku calls silent heart conditions. So these patients could have cholesterol build up in their arteries, but show no signs of chest pains or shortness of breath.
“With the infection, that can trigger a lot of inflammatory responses and also can cause destabilization of the cholesterol plaque in the heart arteries which can lead to a heart attack,” he said.
Njoku believes that prevention is better than a cure, and shared steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.
“Exercise to lose weight, maintain a good and healthy diet,” he said. “Diabetes, you know, maintain an optimal glucose control, and then same for the blood pressure and optimizing your cholesterol.”
He also recommends not smoking or vaping, as those can cause inflammation of arteries, too.
Njoku advices that if you are or were symptomatic to get your heart checked, and if you were not, to monitor your symptoms, and see a doctor if anything feels abnormal.