More patients coming down with cardiovascular problems

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(FILE)
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 9:27 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A number of heart conditions are impacting patients who thought they recovered from COVID-19.

Experts say heart problems are actually one of the rare COVID-19 symptoms, but patients are now seeing lasting cardiovascular problems.

“It’s actually a very small number of people, but it’s a significant small number of people,” Doctor William Brady said.

Dr. Brady works in the Emergency Medicine Department at UVA Health. He sees people coming in with heart problems more often now.

“New onset heart failure, or new onset cardiac arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms,” Brady said. “We are seeing some people that have heart attacks or conditions that could lead up to heart attacks.”

Data on why this is happening is still emerging. Some experts think it’s because heart problems can be a symptom during COVID-19, and then it just lingers.

Brady says this isn’t the first time they’ve seen cardiovascular problems after a virus: “Some of this is theorized to result from inflammatory effects or inflammation of the heart caused by the initial COVID infection and then causing some irritant process and result in abnormal heart rhythms and in the rare and extreme case, cardiac arrest,” the doctor said.

He says heart problems can stem from the flu or other respirator viruses, but it’s been occurring more frequently with COVID-19.

Though the numbers are small, Dr. Brady says it’s scary because it can happen to anyone: “Pre-existing heart problems, and unvaccinated is a very high risk profile,” he said. “But the other end of that spectrum is younger, no cardiovascular problem and vaccinated, you can still have problems in that group.”

He says the emerging data about these issues is just another reason to get vaccinated.

“It looks like certain people with past COVID infection can have new or worsened heart problems in the weeks to months following COVID,” Brady said. “So let’s avoid COVID not only because it is a dangerous virus, but it can cause long term problems in all of us.”

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