As people took to social media about rising heart attacks in the young and seemingly fit people — on the street, at the dance floor, in the wedding and at the gym — leading cardiologists on Monday reiterated that long-term Covid could possibly be responsible in some cases and people must stop unaccustomed heavy exercise regimes.
The hashtag #heartattack has been trending on Twitter for the past 2-3 days, with several examples of sudden heart attacks in those who were otherwise healthy and fit.
“A 23-year-old girl (Josna Cotha) failed and died suddenly (heart attack) at a wedding reception. Tragedy happened while dancing,” tweeted a user, along with posting a video.
Another Twitter user posted a video: “A young man died due to a heart attack while walking”.
According to the cardiologists, the steep rise in people dying unexpectedly of heart attacks is alarming.
“Though we do not have sufficient data and evidence to prove whether this is a covid induced phenomenon, definitely this has increased post covid . Long term Covid sequelae could possibly be responsible in some cases,” Dr. Samir Kubba, Director-Cardiology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, told IANS.
Last month, TV actor Siddhaanth Vir Surryavanshi, who acted in popular shows such as ‘Kkusum’ and ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’, died from a heart attack at age 46. He was working out in the gym when he suffered the attack.
Earlier this year, comedian Raju Srivastava also collapsed in the gym while on the treadmill and after several weeks in hospital, passed away.
In 2021, southern superstar Puneeth Rajkumar, also 46, died after he had a cardiac arrest while working out in the gym.
According to Dr Sanjeev Gera, Director and Head, Cardiology, Fortis Hospital Noida, Covid or long Covid may cause persistent inflammation in heart vessels.
“This can rupture silent blockages and cause a heart attack, especially after an unaccustomed exercises like heavy weight lifting or walking on a treadmill or running in a cold weather and the risk increases when there are risk factors for heart disease like high BP, Diabetes, high cholesterol, Smoking or obesity,” Gera told IANS.
Indians are anyway at higher risk of heart attacks, that too at a younger age than the westerners because of the dietary habits, high incidence and prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, genetic factors, increasing prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles and smoking etc.
“The atherosclerotic plaque can develop in the coronary arteries early in life and can suddenly become unstable with unaccustomed heavy exercise especially if done without proper guidance and supervision,” said Dr Kubba.
Also, most of the cases of sudden death are due to heart attacks but every sudden death is not due to a heart attack.
It can also be due to arrhythmia (abnormality in heart rhythm ). The latter could be because of myocarditis (infection of heart muscle ), silent cardiomyopathy ( weakness in heart muscle ) and certain genetic disorders.
“We advise a proper screening — especially of the high-risk population (diabetics, hypertensives, smokers, people with a strong family history of heart disease , people with high cholesterol, sedentary and obese people etc.) before they hit the gym, participate in a marathon , or do a sudden unaccustomed high intensity activity,” Dr Kubba told IANS.
The screening may include a good clinical examination, ECG and possibly an echocardiogram. Also the exercise regimen must not be unsupervised.
“No harm in carrying 300-325 mg of aspirin which can be chewed, in case of a suspected heart attack,” he advised.
The risk of death from heart attack or failure after Covid-19 is very high within the first 30 days of infection, but remains heightened for some time afterwards, a new research has revealed.
The large UK Biobank study, published in the journal Heart, linked Covid to a heightened risk of poor cardiovascular health and death, particularly among those whose infection is severe requiring hospital admission.