How does COVID-19 impact the heart?

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – We’re learning more and more about COVID-19 from doctors on the front lines; doctors here at the University of Utah say it isn’t just impacting the respiratory system, it’s impacting some patient’s hearts.

Dr. Kevin Shah is a cardiologist at the University hospital, he says his staff is seeing the same pattern here in Utah as in other parts of the world: some patients hearts are taking a beating following a covid-19 diagnosis. He says he’s seen everything from, “Bonafide heart attacks to strokes to blood clots in the lungs to arrhythmias, problems with heart rhythms, and even to sudden cardiac death.”

But he says we’re far too early in the research to able to predict who will have heart complications. “We truly don’t have long term follow-up to know who’s going to recover and who’s going to have a long-term cardiovascular problem. We just don’t know because we’re so early.”

These symptoms most often present themselves in patients with pre-existing conditions: age, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and others. Dr. Shah said, “We’ve known about these virus cardiovascular interactions with other viruses, but we’ve never seen it on a scale like this with a virus that’s making its way through our population.”

Dr. Shah says they’re also seeing an up-tick in cardiovascular cases that are not linked to a COVID-19 case, but where the patient waited too long to seek medical help trying to avoid the virus at a hospital. Shah said, “If there’s one message I could relay to the public, I would say do not ignore symptoms, continue your routine medical care virtually if necessary.”

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