Even as preliminary studies indicate that COVID-19 may increase the chances of cardiac arrest in patients with underlying heart issues, a doctor at a private hospital in Delhi has cautioned that the coronavirus infection could also lead to heart injuries.
He pointed out that he had come across a coronavirus patient who suffered cardiac arrest even though neither he nor his family members had any prior history of any heart disease.
Luckily, the patient was treated successfully by the Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh.
Doctors who handled the case said that neither the patient nor his family had a history of any cardiac issues. He lived a healthy life and stayed away from drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
Manish Gunjan, Additional Director, Interventional Cardiology Centre, said that the arteries of the 31-year-old patient were 100 per cent blocked when he was admitted to the hospital.
"The patient complained of extreme difficulty in breathing, and worsening pain in his chest. A rapid antigen test recorded corona negative result. An RT-PCR test followed. Meanwhile, we went ahead with his treatment since he was in critical condition. Later, the RT-PCR report came positive.
"The case presented an extensive heart attack with no history of any major cardiac risk factors. While shifting him from the Emergency to Cath Lab, the patient suffered a cardiac arrest; a CPR was done and the patient was revived. A coronary angiography was immediately done, revealing that the main artery in the heart was fully blocked. An angioplasty and stenting was performed. Meanwhile, his corona tests were done, which later confirmed his positive status," Gunjan said.
"The patient is not overweight, a teatotaller, and exercises regularly. When he was brought in, he showed symptoms of COVID-19. Since there was no prior heart problem, it indicated the virus had a detrimental effect on his heart," he added.
He said that post-surgical period was smooth and uneventful and the patient was able to walk the next day itself.
"Coronavirus infection not only could lead to lung injury and acute respiratory distress, but also heart injuries.
"COVID-19 patients have displayed increased levels of cardiac troponin, a protein released in the body by injured heart muscles; they have also shown abnormalities in electrocardiograms and heart ultrasounds. Several reports have affirmed that cardiac injury can be induced by coronavirus. The virus also poses a severe threat to patients with existing heart diseases," the medical expert cautioned.
Vikas Maurya, Director and Head of Department, Pulmonology, said: "Many cases involve heart attacks, strokes, acute kidney dysfunction in patients with chronic kidney diseases. This is because of increased inflammation, cytokine storm and thrombogenicity in COVID-19, which affects vital organs.
"COVID-19 can affect multiple organs and is different from other flu viruses that only affect the respiratory system. Therefore, utmost caution is required. Patients presenting other symptoms -- apart from respiratory ones -- should also be investigated for coronavirus infection in case of suspicion."