New research indicates that even mild cases of COVID-19 may lead to long-term negative effects on heart health.
The study focused on the stiffness of arteries, a sign connected to the aging and function of our blood vessels.
When arteries become stiffer and less functional, there is an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, and in severe cases, death.
An international team of scientists used pre-pandemic data on arterial stiffness to compare with post-COVID-19 infection measurements.
Their findings showed that even mild COVID-19 cases impacted artery and heart health two to three months after infection.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, showed that age and time since COVID-19 infection are linked to increased arterial aging.
Dr. Maria Perissiou from the University expressed surprise at the decline in vascular health after COVID-19 infection.
She said that inflammation typically decreases over time after infection, with physiological functions returning to normal levels.
Further research is needed to understand this phenomenon, but some evidence suggests that COVID-19 might trigger an autoimmune process leading to the deterioration of blood vessels.
The study’s participants were mostly young, under 40 years old, and healthy.
The majority of them did not smoke, only 9% had high blood pressure, and none had high cholesterol levels. The group was nearly evenly divided between males and females.
Professor Ana Jeroncic from the University of Split, who led the study, said that the harmful effects of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular health of young people who had mild cases of the virus require close monitoring.
It remains unknown if these negative effects are permanent or how long they might last.
Dr. Perissiou added that while the study is small, it does support predictions that COVID-19 infections will lead to an increase in heart disease cases in the future.
However, other factors contributing to this increase must also be considered.
The study concluded that understanding the long-term heart-related consequences of COVID-19 infection is essential for developing prevention and management strategies for related vascular diseases.
More research is necessary to improve our understanding of the causes and contributing factors.
How to protect your heart health if you get COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 is known to have severe effects on the respiratory system, but it can also cause damage to the cardiovascular system, even in people with mild symptoms.
Therefore, it is essential to protect your heart health if you get a COVID-19 infection. Here are some ways to do that:
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help keep your blood flowing, lower inflammation, and keep your heart healthy.
Follow your doctor’s advice: If you have a pre-existing heart condition, follow your doctor’s advice on how to manage it during and after your COVID-19 infection.
Take medications as prescribed: If you are taking medications for a heart condition, continue taking them as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop or change medications without consulting your doctor.
Rest: Rest is important to help your body recover from the infection. Get plenty of sleep and avoid physical activities that can put a strain on your heart.
Monitor your symptoms: Keep track of any new or worsening symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeat. Seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.
Exercise: Once you have recovered from the infection, start exercising again gradually. Regular exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, but start slowly and build up gradually.
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help keep your heart healthy.
Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of heart disease, and COVID-19 infection can further worsen the condition. Therefore, quit smoking to protect your heart health.
In summary, taking care of your heart health is crucial if you get a COVID-19 infection.
Stay hydrated, follow your doctor’s advice, take medications as prescribed, rest, monitor your symptoms, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and quit smoking to protect your heart health.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.
The study was conducted by Mario Podrug et al and published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
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