Coronavirus can cause heart attacks and strokes - study

The virus can cause serious cardiovascular complications, including heart failure, heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes, and can even interfere with patient's existing heart-treatment medications.

Virtual image of human heart  (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Virtual image of human heart
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
While the respiratory symptoms of the coronavirus are widely known, the virus can cause cardiovascular complications which have lead to death or lasting impairment, according to a new research paper from UVA Health, an academic health system nationally recognized in the US for its cancer and heart centers. 
“As we gain more experience with this new pathogen, we realize that its adverse impact extends beyond the respiratory system,” said Brady, of UVA’s Department of Emergency Medicine.
The virus can cause serious cardiovascular complications, including heart failure, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. Coronavirus can even interfere with patient's existing heart medications, according to a study done by emergency medicine doctors of UVA Health, and published by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
The new research paper from UVA Health's William Brady, MD, and colleagues, aims to serve as a guide for emergency medicine doctors treating patients who have either had or currently have the coronavirus. 
“In writing this article, we hope to increase emergency physicians’ knowledge and awareness of this new pathogen and its impact on the cardiovascular system,” Brady said.
“As we encounter more and more patients with coronavirus-related illness, we are increasing our understanding of its impact on the body in general and the cardiovascular system in particular. The rate of learning on this area is amazingly rapid. Information continues to change weekly, if not daily," he added. 
In one study, the authors note, it was found that 24% of patients diagnosed with the virus were suffering from acute heart failure upon their diagnosis. Of the patients with heart failure, nearly half were not known to have high blood pressure, or preexisting cardiovascular conditions. 
The paper does add however, that it remains unclear if the heart failure was the result of the virus specifically, or if patients were suffering from un-diagnosed  heart conditions that were exacerbated by the virus. 
The paper adds that chances of strokes and heart attacks are increased in patients who have the coronavirus, as the virus causes severe inflammation throughout the body, increasing the risk that fatty plaque built up in the blood vessels will rupture.
Furthermore, the paper also notes the cardioascular complications that coronavirus treatments and drugs could have, referencing highly publicized drugs such as the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine or the antiviral drug Remdesivir.
According to the paper, the malaria drug has negative interactions with medications designed to regulate the heart rhythm taken by patients with preexisting cardiovascular conditions. 
Meanwhile, the antiviral drug Remdesivir, the only treatment authorized by the FDA in use against the novel coronavirus, can cause low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.