Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Problems After Contracting COVID-19
Other parts of the pandemic, such as stress, missed medical appointments and less exercise could have contributed to increased heart problems. Photo: Maskot/Getty Images
Research shows an increased likelihood of heart failure or other cardiovascular problems after being infected by COVID-19.
In one study by Washington University and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, found that 150,000 people who contracted COVID-19 showed an increase in 20 cardiovascular problems during the year after they were infected, compared to people who were not infected, with 52 per cent more likely to have a stroke.
This risk was still present if they were not hospitalized, but the highest cardiovascular risks were found in people who were admitted into intensive care. People who were not hospitalized when they were infected with COVID still had an eight per cent increased risk of having a heart attack and a 247 per cent increased chance of heart inflammation. You can read more about the risks here.
According to the World Health Organization, around 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2019 — that’s 31 per cent of the world’s global deaths. It is unclear if that number has increased in 2022.
Other parts of the pandemic, such as stress, missed medical appointments, and less exercise could have also contributed to increased heart problems.
With COVID-19’s latest variant, Omicron BA.5. affecting Canadians this World Heart Day, here are some ways to care for your heart before and after contracting the illness:
Since excess weight contributes to heart disease, maintaining consistent exercise may help. Adults should get around 2.5 hours of exercise a week, according to the CDC.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Diet plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy body and protecting your heart.
In the same way, there are other foods which may be a detriment to your health, such as bacon, which can increase blood pressure.
Improve Your Sleep
Your blood pressure decreases when you sleep, which helps prevent one of the leading risks for heart diseases and stroke.
Doctors typically recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night. Besides that, avoiding meals a few hours before you go to bed could also help improve sleep.
Losing weight is also one way to increase sleep quality, according to a Johns Hopkins study.
Keeping this in mind, it is important to consult a physician before making any drastic lifestyle changes.