Keeping a healthy heart during the ongoing pandemic

The year 2020 is witnessing a pandemic at an unprecedented level. COVID-19 has disrupted the entire world, including India, and continues to be a global healthcare issue the virus, known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or simply coronavirus, affects mainly the respiratory system but can cause severe complications to other organ systems as well. It has also been observed that people with co-morbidities and altered immune system are more susceptible to infection.
Cardiac patients at increased risk of COVID-19 One such risk group is the people suffering from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people with underlying health conditions, like heart disease, are 12 times more likely to die and 6 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. On this World Heart Day, it is imperative to spread awareness about the increased risk of getting infected with COVID-19 due to existing heart diseases and how regular testing can prove to be the saving grace.
Fear of coronavirus adds to the complications According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, an estimated 54.6 million people have heart disease in India. CVDs are already the leading cause of mortality in the country and with the added fear of COVID-19, patients are avoiding hospitals and even missing regular tests and checkups. This is certainly a worrying trend. A recent German study published JAMA Cardiology reported that an astonishing 60% of COVID-19 patients were detected with myocardial (heart muscle) inflammation. This condition renders the enlarged heart unable to pump blood efficiently which can lead to complications like stroke and heart failure. Therefore, it is crucial for these patients to continue monitoring their cardiovascular system. Regular testing essential to keep a healthy heart
While studies continue to understand the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the body, heart patients need to pay attention to the importance of regular testing and checkups. The best possible way to avoid any untoward emergency situation is to keep a close check on the key parameters. Here are some of the key diagnostic tests that can help people in early detection of any suspected CVD –
• Total Cholesterol – It helps in detecting high cholesterol level which is a significant risk factor for CVDs.
• Serum Triglyceride test can measure the triglycerides, a kind of fat, in the blood.
• Lipoprotein (a), or Lp (a) - It is a type of Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol that helps in risk stratification in cases with family history of early-onset of heart disease, sudden death, or stroke.
• Creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) - CK-MB is a cardiac marker which assists in the diagnosis of heart attack. The decline in CPK-MB follows a predictable course and if the decline shows a sudden increase, it is suggestive of reinfarction.
• D-Dimer – A blood test used for monitoring blood clotting problems. A positive test means D-Dimer level is higher and indicates that the person may have blood clotting issues.
• Troponin Test - The test measures the level of Troponin T or Troponin I, proteins in the blood Greater the amount of Troponin T and I, Higher is the risk of damage to the heart.
As per WHO, 80% of premature heart diseases and strokes are preventable by timely action. The most important step in this direction is to educate the masses about monitoring, regulating and controlling the ailments through routine testing. In the present times, the importance of regular diagnostics cannot be emphasized enough to keep a healthy heart and lower the vulnerability to COVID-19.