Express press service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Covid pandemic could have aggravated the state’s heart disease burden as the impact is likely to be seen in the coming months, health experts warn. Covid and cardiovascular diseases are known to increase mortality and morbidity. While Covid had killed more than 63,000 people over the past two years, cardiovascular disease had caused more deaths over the years.
Health experts point to a situation where Covid infection could trigger multiple heart conditions during the post-recovery period. While the impact of viral infection in triggering other diseases is well documented, the study of the impact of post-Covid syndrome is still in its infancy. Yet the warning signs are already there, clinicians say.
“The risk of cardiovascular disease increased by 25% although we have limited data to prove it. ‘Long Covid’ is going to be a problem for one to two years,” said Dr. Harikrishnan S, Principal Investigator of the Heart Failure Center of Excellence and Professor of Cardiology at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Science and medical technologies ( SCTIMST).
According to him, 1 to 2% of people who had recovered from Covid face serious problems, such as heart failure. He indicated that SCTIMST would soon open an outpatient clinic for post-Covid ailments. The health department recently released data which showed nearly 9,000 people have come to post-Covid clinics complaining of heart problems. More than seven lakh people had visited such clinics in the state by the end of January.
At present, there have been no studies in the country to explain the extent of the situation. Studies by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Cardiological Society of India are still ongoing, Dr Harikrishnan said.
A study conducted in the United States found that Covid patients were 1.7 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disorders or a dysregulated heart rhythm and 2.39 times more likely to form clots in blood vessels. The results conducted on 1.5 lakh Covid patients from March 1, 2020 to January 15, 2021 have been published in the journal ‘Nature Medicine’.
The second wave led by Delta and the third wave by Omicron further expanded the scope of the study. But the researchers found that the lack of credible data was a challenge to making meaningful inference.
“Diabetes and cardiovascular disease have increased slightly. But it is too early to identify a reason. Studies were affected due to the limitation of establishing a control group. Yet such comparative studies are possible by taking pre-Covid data,” said Dr NM Arun, an internal medicine specialist and public health campaigner.