LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — February is American Heart Month and while it's always important to think about our health, the way COVID-19 affects our bodies has made us even more aware.
Dr. Vincent Sorrell, assistant chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine with UK HealthCare, says it's never too early to develop healthy heart habits and know your family history when it comes to heart diseases and conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Over the last year, health officials have seen a rise in heart issues in people who have contracted COVID-19.
“It doesn't mean you're going to get COVID more commonly than somebody else, but it does mean if you are to get COVID, you are likely to have more of a moderate to severe case or actually dying from the disease,” said Sorrell.
But like other viruses, COVID-19 can cause heart inflammation. Sorrell says it will take time to see what long-term impacts this could have. He also says the UK is doing research on the connection between the virus and complications with blood clots.
“We know that getting blood clots in the veins or blood clots in the arteries, DVTs or pulmonary emboli are definitely at an increased risk with COVID,” said Sorrell. “So, if people have had COVID and they're home and they suddenly develop lower extremity swelling or pain in their legs or they suddenly get acute shortness of breath or chest pain, that could be a marker of a complication of a clot and they need to call their health care provider or call 911 if it’s bad enough.”
The American Heart Association has also launched a Don't Die of Doubt campaign to encourage people to learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke and to not let the fear of catching the virus prevent them from going to the hospital.
“Those are emergency things and you're far better off here than you are at home having those diseases,” said Sorrell.