It’s common knowledge that the COVID-19 Pandemic is on everyone’s minds. According to a study published in AHA Journals, as of March 21, 2020, infected patients were present in 167 countries and regions around the world, totaling about 285,000 cases worldwide with nearly 12,000 fatalities at the time of publication.
Those numbers continue to rise, and though the outbreak began in China, the number of cases outside of China exceeded those in China as of March 15, 2020. Even further, the fatalities in Italy now exceeds the number of fatalities that occurred in China, too.
COVID-19 poses a threat to many people, but because it interacts with the cardiovascular system on multiple levels, it offers an increasing threat and morbidity in patients who have underlying cardiovascular conditions and can further provoke myocardial injury as well as dysfunction.
How Does COVID-19 Affect Patients With Cardiovascular Disease?
Simply put, the coronavirus disease, often referred to as COVID-19, is a global pandemic that is caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (identified as SARS-CoV-2). A novel, single-stranded enveloped RNA virus, COVID-19 is the seventh known human coronaviruses. Unlike other coronaviruses—which typically cause the common cold and other similar illnesses—SARS-CoV-2 is similar to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (called MERS-CoV) from 2012 and SARS-CoV, which occurred in 2002.
The coronavirus infection is caused by the binding of the viral surface spike protein to our ACE2 receptors, which is expressed in the lung and highly expressed in the heart, too (not to mention our vascular endothelium, kidneys, intestinal epithelium, and more).
Early cases in China evidenced that myocardial injury (shown by elevated cardiac biomarkers) were recognized. In a study of 138 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, cardiac injury was present in 7.2 percent of patients overall and 22 percent that required ICU Care.