Why Common Viruses Like Flu and COVID Could Be Harming Your Heart?

Why Common Viruses Like Flu and COVID Could Be Harming Your Heart?

In the midst of a surge in respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and influenza sweeping across the United States, there’s a growing concern among experts about the potential for an increase in cardiovascular complications.

As of the week ending Jan. 13, weekly COVID hospitalizations stand at 32,861, a slight decrease from the previous week but comparable to the levels observed in January 2023, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarly, there were 14,874 weekly flu hospitalizations, also lower than the previous week but akin to the figures seen in November 2023.

While many might think that complications from respiratory illnesses are limited to conditions like sinusitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia, Dr. Deepak Bhatt, the director of Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital in New York City, warns of two potential pathways through which these infections can contribute to heart problems.

The more common route involves individuals getting severely ill, perhaps with influenza, leading to a high fever or dehydration and subsequent hospitalization due to complications. This scenario sets the stage for heart problems, as fever or dehydration can elevate heart rate, posing a significant risk for those with heart disease or risk factors. Additionally, respiratory infections can induce inflammation, potentially causing blood clots to form in plaque buildup—a potential trigger for heart attacks.

The other, rarer pathway is myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle usually following a virus. Myocarditis can result in arrhythmias and weaken the heart muscle, leading to cardiomyopathy, affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. In extreme cases, myocarditis can even lead to heart failure and cardiogenic shock, impacting the heart’s ability to meet the body’s needs.

Although these conditions are more common in older adults or those with known heart disease, there may be individuals unaware of their risk. Dr. Bhatt emphasizes the importance of vaccination against flu, COVID, and RSV for older adults.

Recent CDC data indicates a lag in vaccine uptake, with only 21.5% of adults aged 18 and older having received the updated COVID vaccine, and 46.7% having received the flu shot. Moreover, just 2.1% of adults aged 60 and older have gotten the RSV vaccine.

Dr. Bhatt urges anyone experiencing worsening chest pain or breathlessness, even without underlying conditions, to seek medical attention promptly. He emphasizes the need to call 911 if significant discomfort in the chest worsens rapidly, regardless of assumptions about the cause, such as a bad cold, influenza, or COVID. Calling 911 is the right course of action in such situations.

About Author

Ingrid Mueller

Ingrid Mueller, a literary expert with a Ph.D. in Literature from Yale University, brings a touch of artistry to her writing. Her critical analyses and cultural insights provide a fresh perspective on trending news. Ingrid's articles are a treat for those seeking a deeper understanding of the world around them. Explore the trends through her unique lens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *