Coronavirus – Infection: Increases risk of heart disease – Who is most at risk
New research data show another round of serious consequences that comes from COVID-19 infection. What is the risk interval and who are the most vulnerable patients?
Serious health risks arising from infection with the coronavirus have been revealed by new research from UK Biobank, according to which, the disease seriously increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and death. The new study has been published in Heart.
According to the study’s main findings, the risk was especially high in the first 30 days after infection and particularly for those who were sick enough to need hospitalization. The researchers, however, point out that the risk remains not only for everyone who is infected, but also for a significant period of time after infection.
To further look into possible effects on health from the coronavirus infection, the researchers studied the cases of 53 613 people relying on data from the UK Biobank which monitors participants’ health and existence through medical records and death registry data.
- 17 871 were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the period from March 2020 to March 2021.
- 35 742 were not diagnosed with COVID-19
Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 included more men, people with poorer well-being and unwell cardio metabolic profiles.
Out of 17 871 cases of COVID-19:
- 2 701 are hospitalized due to the coronavirus
- 866 had coronavirus, but were hospitalized for another condition and
- 14 304 did not require hospital treatment
All participants were monitored for an average of 141 days until the onset of cardiovascular problems, death or until the end of March 2021.
The following cardiovascular health factors were examined:
- Myocardial infarction
- Syncope incidence
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Death from any cause
- Death from cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease
The research came to the following conclusions:
- Those who were infected with COVID-19 without requiring hospitalization were nearly 3 times more likely to develop a blood clot and over 10 times more possibly to die from any cause than those who did not become ill.
- Those who were infected with COVID-19 and required hospitalization were at higher risk for all health factors examined, regardless of potentially important demographic and cardio metabolic factors.
In particular, those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 were:
- Over 27 times more likely to develop a blood clot
- Over 21.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with heart failure
- 5 times more likely to have a stroke
- In 15 times higher risk of atrial fibrillation
- In 14 times higher risk of pericarditis
- In 10 times more risk of heart attack
Those who had COVID-19 but were hospitalized for other reasons were also at increased risk for all health factors examined, compared with those who had not catch the virus at all. These patients faced a lower risk of death from any cause than those hospitalized for COVID-19, but a higher risk of death from heart disease. As the researchers explain this is likely related to the original reason for hospitalization and not to COVID-19.
Not surprisingly, death rates were higher among those infected with COVID-19: Those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 had a 118 times higher risk of death compared to those who did not require hospital care, while those who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 but were treated for another reason were 64 times more likely to die.
The study also found that most cardio vascular disease diagnoses occur in the first 30 days after infection, mostly in those hospitalized for the coronavirus. However, the increased risk remains beyond 30 days, although to a lesser extent.
This study was observational, so no definitive conclusions about cause and effect can be made. Furthermore, it included several selected health outcomes without considering the severity of COVID-19. The research also did not consider other potentially important factors, such as the impact of vaccination, new mutations of the virus and repeated infections.
The researchers note: “The long-term effects of COVID-19 infection are emerging as a major public health concern. Our findings highlight the increased cardiovascular risk of infected individuals, which is even more likely to be higher in countries with limited access to vaccination and thus greater population exposure to the disease. Such risks are almost entirely confined to those with underlying illnesses requiring hospitalization and are greatest early after infection.”
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