How does COVID-19 affect the heart?

Scientists are continuing to explore the toll the virus takes on the cardiovascular system. Three new papers released Monday lay out what’s been learned so far

  • People who already have heart disease are at higher risk for heart rhythm disturbances and blood vessel-blocking clots. Heart muscle injury, which occurs in about 1 in 4 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, is tied to both a greater need for a ventilator and to death, one study finds.
  • People with cardiovascular problems who become infected experience more severe illness and complications, struggling to breathe and having small blood clots form in the lungs, heart, and kidney.  “Although most patients recover, those who survive severe illness may experience persistent physical and psychological disabilities,” the authors of another paper write.
  • And in a third paper, experts break down four pre-existing problems that can make Covid-19 infection worse: obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which they collectively call Covid-related cardiometabolic syndrome. Medications, better diet, and increased exercise are tried and true remedies in the long term, but “lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic support shorter-term benefits of these interventions,” the study says.

Diabetes & COVID

Diabetes, disparities, and Covid-19: Three intertwined ‘epidemics’ raise risk of severe illness and death

October 1, 2020 | Elizabeth Cooney

There are no easy answers to the coronavirus pandemic, but for people with diabetes, it’s dismayingly difficult to untangle the thicket of biological and socioeconomic factors that make them more likely to suffer severe illness and die should they catch the virus that causes Covid-19. That leaves prevention — controlling blood sugar through diet, exercise, monitoring, and medication — as the leading tactic to protect people, until a successful vaccine proven to work in people with diabetes, too, reaches a population bearing multiple burdens of chronic illness.

Read more

Air Quality and COVID-19: Connection, Health Impacts, and Racial Disparities

The American Lung Association’s virtual COVID-19 Summer Town Hall Series brings together top health experts to raise awareness about the effects of COVID-19. The next town hall on Wednesday, July 15 from 3:00 to 4:00 pm CT will focus on the connection between poor air quality and COVID-19, and impacts on communities of color, especially African Americans.

Learn more and register.