Sudden Cardiac Arrest and COVID-19 has so far remained quite mysterious to many people owing to the fact that the infection caused by it ranges from mild asymptomatic, moderate symptomatic to quite an intricate infection. In some reported cases, the infection is reported as fatal and life-threatening (worsening of heart disease, cardiac arrest and heart attacks) as well. However, in the majority of the cases, the infection seems to be falling under the mild to moderate category.

Complications associated with COVID-19 Infection

Many of us are now aware of the severe complications and life-threatening conditions associated with the infection caused by COVID-19. For instance, we all know about respiratory distress and lung disease, but another life-threatening complication (heart disease) is also manifesting due to the new coronavirus infection. Heart-related complications are one of the recently emerging complications among the group of potentially life-threatening complications of COVID-19. The matter of concern here is to understand how people are developing heart-related ailments (sudden cardiac arrest and COVID-19) – are they unexpected or due to exaggeration of any sort of pre-existing heart disease.

There are different scenarios wherein COVID-19 infection can cause damage to your heart and create havoc inside the body. Let us understand all such scenarios in detail.

How Does the New Coronavirus Induces Heart Damage?

Many people are worried that infection with COVID-19 poses a severe threat to their lives. They are right as people with heart disease and pre-existing heart disease (with or without symptoms – a silent heart disease) are at increased risk of severe infection when compared to those who are relatively healthy (without heart disease). Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions are at a higher risk of severe cardiovascular and respiratory complications.

Now the next question is whether COVID-19 infection causes heart damage in relatively healthy-looking individuals. To know the answer, let us understand how COVID-19 causes heart damage and poses equal threat to both healthy as well as diseased individuals.

According to several research studies, respiratory infections like influenza and flu can induce heart damage (heart attacks) in both healthy as well as diseased individuals. The following information details the ways in which COVID-19 infection can cause damage to the heart.

First Case: Those who fall under this case are the onespresented with heart disease symptoms after getting infected by COVID-19. They could have had previously undiagnosed heart disease with mild symptoms or silent symptoms or no symptoms at all. The silent or masked heart disease may get unmasked by coronavirus infection in them.

Second Case: The people who fall under this category are those with pre-existing heart disease [a blocked artery or heart disease (coronary artery disease)]. When they get infected by COVID-19, they develop fever and inflammation – which in turn damage their blood vessels by inducing damage to the plaque inside the blood vessels. When this happens, they experience heart attack. These people will also become more prone to clotting as fever and inflammation render blood prone to clotting – which may result in the blockage of coronary artery and heart attacks.

Sudden cardiac arrest and COVID-19: In addition to this, COVID-19 infection shatters body’s natural defence mechanism – owing to which body’s ability to fight against COVID-19 and blood clots diminish – which in turn increases the risk of severe complications and heart attacks.

Third Case: In this category, people do not have any symptoms – neither silent symptoms nor any pre-existing heart condition or any other heart-related symptoms. Which means they are healthy. Blockages in the arteries due to calcified fatty acid deposits and plaques are not the major cause of heart attack in such individuals. However, they still experience heart attack due to injury caused to heart muscles when they get infected by COVID-19.

How the injury to heart muscles is induced in such people?

When COVID-19 infects some healthy individuals, the virus causes damage to the heart muscles due to infection and triggers a state that may lead to inadequate oxygen supply to heart muscles. In these circumstances the demand for oxygen is high for the activity of the heart, but there is a mismatch between oxygen supply and demand.

The demand is huge for the heart because the episodes of inflammation and fever that manifest during the viral infection boost metabolic rate and thus heart rate also increases putting huge demand on several other organs and heart itself.

The burden of excess oxygen increases on the lungs that are already under stress due to severe infection. The lungs are already in a state of turmoil – incapable of working efficiently to meet excess oxygen demands. Crippled lungs due to in efficient oxygen and gas exchange can further curtail oxygen supply to the heart inducing heart attack.

Fourth Case: This is quite an unusual case as people falling in this category of infection with COVID-19 are the ones who never had heart disease before; they didn’t have any symptoms either. Which means these people are relatively healthier with no symptoms or no pre-existing heart disease. In this category of people with no underlying heart disease, infection with COVID-19 can still cause damage to the heart. Virus infection causes inflammation of the heart muscle – which means, COVID-19 directly infects the heart muscle and causes inflammation in the heart muscle – which in turn damages heart muscle. Once a person suffers heart damage, he or she may experience problems with the heart rhythms and heartbeats. The heart muscle damage thus incurred can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood effectively and efficiently.

Bottom Line

COVID-19 or an infection caused by the novel coronavirus can cause damage to the heart and heart muscles in several ways – irrespective of whether the infected person is healthy or diseased. Which means, irrespective of whether a person has heart disease or not the risk is similar to all. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a big threat to the heart as the infection caused by COVID-19 stresses the heart to a great extent. In addition to causing damage to the heart, in individuals who are at risk, it can cause heart inflammation in people who are healthy (without any pre-existing risk factors of heart disease or symptoms). Even in healthy individuals, heart inflammation can often be life-threatening.