Experts warn Covid can affect any part of body especially heart, not only lungs

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LONDON: Recent research shows that the novel coronavirus disease, that affects the lungs and respiratory system, can also lead to severe heart problems, a report in the New York Times said earlier this week.

In fact, according to the article, written by cardiologist Dr Haider Warraich, “doctors and researchers should no longer think of Covid-19 as a disease of the lungs but as one that can affect any part of the body, especially the heart.”

Dr Warraich, who is also a researcher at the Harvard Medical School, notes that “some of the virus’s most potent damage is inflicted on the heart,” even for seemingly healthy individuals.

Dr Haider Warraich

That’s because patients can develop Covid-19-associated myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — that can pose serious risks to some people’s life. Recent research conducted in Germany that studied around 100 people who had recovered from Covid-19 and were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms during their illness, found that nearly 60 per cent had myocarditis. The patients included in the sample had a median age of 49 and were healthy.

Though the research had problems of generalisability, its findings do reveal that it is common for young people, who have recovered from the novel coronavirus, to develop heart problems.

The New York Times article cites the case of 27-year-old American baseball player Eduardo Rodriguez, who had tested positive for Covid-19 last month. Rodriguez developed myocarditis, due to which he would not be able to play this season even though he has recovered from the virus.

However, it is not yet clear if myocarditis is caused by Covid-19 or if it’s a result of the body’s immune reaction to the virus. Nevertheless, the article cautions that despite treatment, Covid-19 associated myocarditis can prove fatal for some people as it can lead to heart failure.

Since the emergence of the virus, doctors have included people with underlying heart conditions, diabetes and high blood pressure in the group that is most vulnerable to Covid-19. Due to the spread of the virus, many people have become wary of visiting hospitals even to seek treatment for heart problems, which can cause a spike in the number of deaths caused by cardiac diseases.