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Can COVID Cause Heart Problems?

Researchers from Columbia University have found that COVID infection appears to make it harder for hearts to beat properly.

COVID can cause damage to the heart on a cellular level that can lead to lasting problems, including irregular heartbeats and heart failure.

What Is The Exact Link Between COVID And Heart Problems?

Researchers from Columbia University examined autopsied heart tissue from people who had COVID. As a result, they found that the infection damaged the way cells in the heart regulate levels of calcium. This is a mineral that plays an important role in how the organ contracts and pumps blood throughout the body. Moreover, this study also showed the same damage in mice with COVID.

When someone gets COVID, the immune system launches a hefty inflammatory response to fight off the virus. This new study found that inflammation disrupts how our bodies store calcium in the heart. During a COVID infection, inflammation causes such damage that appears to prop the channels open. Therefore, they let too much calcium leak from the cells of the heart. This flood of calcium can decrease heart function and even cause fatal arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.

Many researchers have extensively addressed the effects of COVID on the heart. Nevertheless, this study focuses on the virus as the cause of these microscopic changes.

Coronavirus Can Also Cause Brain Damage

The journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia published a study indicating that they found same cellular damage to calcium ion channels in autopsied brain tissue from COVID patients. Dr. Andrew Marks is the professor at Columbia University who co-led this study and also the heart’s one. He argues that they have long seen these changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease, too.

Likewise, viral infections causing inflammation of the heart are not a new finding. “Before COVID came onto the scene, during the winter, when viral infections spiked, we saw more people presenting with pathologies like myocarditis,” said Dr. Siddharth Singh. He is the clinical director of the post-COVID-19 cardiology clinic at the Smidt Heart Institute.

According to him, the damage isn’t necessarily permanent. “Over time, symptoms like brain fog and palpitations do get better in some patients, so to an extent, this damage appears to be able to heal,”. However, researchers need to study patients longer to better understand which factors allow this to happen.


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