TAMPA, FLA. — AdventHealth officials said COVID-19 may have an effect on the heart for some patients.
Research has shown COVID-19 infections can lead to heart inflammation often mimicking a heart attack.
Imaging tests taken months after some patients recover from COVID-19 have shown damage to the heart muscle even if people experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms.
"We have noticed over the time COVID infections can lead to things like heart muscle inflammation which is also known as myocarditis where the inflammation in the heart muscle feels like a heart attack, severe chest pain that forces patients to come to the hospital," said Dr. Imran Ismail, AdventHealth cardiologist. '
Dr. Ismail said people are at greater risk of COVID-19 complications if they have been diagnosed with heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
"Many times COVID can affect the heart muscle in a way that makes diseases worse so if you have heart failure in the past having a COVID infection can make heart failure worse a second round," said Dr. Ismail.
AdventHealth officials said 460 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 at hospitals in seven counties including in Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties.
AdventHealth Centra Care's statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate has decreased to 31.6%. Cases are declining, but the Omicron variant is still spreading.
"What is the best way to prevent long-term COVID heart....to not get COVID in the first place. The best way to do that is to get yourself and your family vaccinated," said Dr. Ismail.
To keep your heart healthy, doctors encourage people to get vaccinated, exercise at least 20 minutes a day, and eat healthily.
"The general treatment plan is two-fold: Treat the virus itself and manage cardiovascular issues with standard advanced treatments. The hospital is the safest place if you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, even during a pandemic. The best way to avoid having cardiac complications due to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and mask whenever possible," added Dr. Ismail.