The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on global health, with millions of individuals contracting the virus and a significant number of deaths worldwide. While the focus has primarily been on respiratory symptoms and complications, recent research suggests that the virus can also have implications for heart health. In this article, we will explore the impact of COVID-19 on the heart, the association of heart disease with COVID-19 vaccines, and the rise in heart strokes among younger individuals. Additionally, we will discuss the cardiovascular effects of Covishield and the safety of Covaxin for heart health.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Heart
- Increased Blood Clotting Tendency: One of the ways COVID-19 can affect the heart is by increasing the blood clotting tendency. This raises the risk of various diseases related to the development of blood clots, such as heart attack, cerebral stroke, deep vein thrombosis, or peripheral arterial thrombosis. However, it’s important to note that this risk is not lifelong. It is primarily present during the active COVID-19 infection and for a certain period (usually 1-2 months) after the infection. To minimize this risk, blood thinners are often prescribed during that period.
- Weakening of the Heart Muscle (Myocarditis): COVID-19 infection can lead to the inflammation of the heart, known as myocarditis. This inflammation can weaken the heart muscle and may result in symptoms associated with heart failure.
- Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Arrhythmias): Another potential impact of COVID-19 on the heart is an increased tendency towards abnormal heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias. This can manifest as either an abnormal heart rate reduction or fast heartbeats. Arrhythmias may be a new irregularity or the exacerbation of a pre-existing abnormality.
Association of Heart Disease with COVID-19 Vaccine
While COVID-19 infection can have adverse effects on heart health, the association of heart disease, particularly myocarditis, with COVID-19 vaccines is still being evaluated. Some evidence suggests a potential association, especially in young individuals after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. However, it’s crucial to note that the overall risk is relatively small compared to the potential benefits of vaccination, which include preventing severe COVID-19 illness and its complications.
Rise in Heart Strokes among Younger Individuals
Heart strokes, traditionally considered a disease of the elderly, have become increasingly common among younger individuals, particularly those in their 30s to 50s. This trend has been observed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reasons for this increase in heart strokes among younger individuals are still being studied and understood.
Cardiovascular Effects of Covishield
According to eminent British-Indian cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield), has been associated with cardiovascular effects, heart attacks, and strokes. Dr. Malhotra has called for a comprehensive safety review of the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, stating that Covishield should not have been rolled out in the country.
Safety of Covaxin and Heart Health
In contrast, preliminary data suggest that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin does not significantly affect heart health and appears to be safe. However, as investigations continue into other COVID-19 vaccines, including Covaxin, further examination of their impact on heart health is necessary.
While COVID-19 vaccines are crucial in the fight against the pandemic, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects related to heart health. The impact of COVID-19 on the heart can manifest in increased blood clotting tendency, weakened heart muscle, and abnormal heart rhythms. Although there is ongoing research on the association of heart disease with COVID-19 vaccines, the overall risk remains relatively small compared to the substantial benefits of vaccination. Additionally, the rise in heart strokes among younger individuals during the pandemic highlights the need for vigilance and further investigation. Ultimately, it is vital to prioritize the health and safety of individuals while addressing the global health crisis.