Covid-19 patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease

Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India 23 January 2023

Covid-19 patients are 81 times more likely to die during the acute phase of the illness, according to a study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research. This risk remained high by 5-folds in the post-Covid period.1

A total of 7584 patients with COVID-19 infection from the UK Biobank between March 2020 and November 2020 was selected for this study. Each patient was matched with 10 persons who did not have Covid-19, selected between 16 March 2020 till 31 August 2021. They were also matched with a group of persons from before the pandemic between 16 March 2018 and 30 November 2018, prior to the pandemic. The average age of the participants was 66 years in all the three groups. The study objective was to compare the occurrence of major cardiovascular events and cardiac-related and and all-cause mortality in subjects with Covid-19 versus those who did not have Covid-19.

In the acute phase of the illness i.e., within 21 days of being diagnosed with Covid-19, Covid-positive patients were at nearly 4-folds higher risk of major CVD (composite of stroke, CHD, and heart failure), including nearly 50% greater risk of CVD in the post-acute phase (from the 22nd day post-diagnosis up to 18 months). The mortality risk was increased 81 times during acute Covid and 5 times in the post-acute phase versus uninfected subjects. The risk was greater among patients with severe Covid-19 than those who had mild or moderate infection. The chances of occurrence of CVD like MI, CHD, heart failure, DVT were higher amongst the Covid patients in both the short- and long-term when compared to those who did not have Covid-19. The short-term risks of stroke and AF were increased in Covid patients, but this risk normalized later on.

This study illustrates the significantly elevated risks of incident cardiovascular disease including mortality in patients with acute Covid-19 compared to those who did not have Covid-19. These risks persist in the form of long Covid in many Covid survivors. Hence, patients should be monitored for cardiovascular disease at least for a year after recovering from Covid-19.

Reference

Wan EYF, et al. Association of COVID-19 with short- and long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality: A prospective cohort in UK Biobank. Cardiovasc Res. 2023 Jan 19;cvac195. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvac195

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