Heart attacks, heart failure, stroke: Dangerous COVID-19 complications you need to know

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In a new study, researchers found that COVID-19 can cause serious heart complications including heart failure, heart attacks, and blood clots that can lead to strokes.

They caution that COVID-19 treatments can interact with medicines used to manage patients’ existing heart conditions.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Virginia Health System.

The team aims to provide a guide for emergency-medicine doctors treating patients who may have or are known to have COVID-19.

They note that much attention has been paid to the pulmonary (breathing) complications of COVID-19, but less has been said about the heart complications that can lead to death or lasting impairment.

Heart failure is a particular concern in patients with COVID-19.

One study, the article authors note, found that almost a quarter of COVID-19 patients—24% – were suffering acute heart failure when they were first diagnosed with the coronavirus.

(This doesn’t mean that 24% of all COVID-19 patients will suffer heart failure. The authors state that it remains unclear if the heart failure was the result of COVID-19 specifically or if the virus was worsening undiagnosed heart failure.)

Of the patients with heart failure, nearly half were not known to have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.

The paper also notes that COVID-19, and other diseases that cause severe inflammation throughout the body, increase the risk that fatty plaque built up in the blood vessels will rupture, leading to heart attacks and stroke.

Influenza and certain other viruses have been associated with increased risk of plaque ruptures within the first week after the disease was diagnosed, the authors state in their review of the available COVID-19 medical literature.

Finally, the authors describe potential drug interactions in COVID-19 patients.

For example, the highly publicized malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can interact with medications designed to regulate heart rhythm, in addition to causing heart damage and worsening cardiomyopathy.

Remdesivir, an antiviral that is the only COVID-19 treatment authorized by the FDA, can cause low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythm.

It’s important for doctors to bear these interactions in mind when treating patients with COVID-19, the authors note.

The lead author of the study is UVA Health’s William Brady, MD.

The study is published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

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