Sat | Dec 5, 2020

COVID-19 increases the rate of infection in heart patients – Study

Published:Wednesday | October 28, 2020 | 12:15 AM

A new study published in Clinical Cardiology, an internationally recognised peer-reviewed cardiology journal, has revealed that COVID-19 severely increases the risk of infection in patients that have pre-existing heart conditions. The study was performed by Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) and is a pioneering piece of research about the little-known effects of coronavirus on pre-existing heart conditions.

The report, titled ‘COVID-19 and the heart: An update for clinicians’, investigates heart conditions such as cerebrovascular disease, arrhythmia, and haemostasis and thrombosis, which are said to become worse should a patient with any of these conditions contract COVID-19. While it is too early to predict the long-term cardiovascular implications of the coronavirus, the study notes that it could be similar to that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Patients who recovered from SARS were monitored for 12 years and 40 per cent exhibited heart complications.

The research is the first major academic report making the link between COVID-19 and heart disease from a Caribbean institution. Founder, chairman and CEO of the HIC, Ernest Madu, notes the value of documenting this research on an international platform.

“It was important for us to be able to add to the body of knowledge concerning the coronavirus, as there is need for such research in a practical sense so that medical professionals can keep up to date on how the virus is affecting people’s lives. The peer-review process is rigorous and having our research accepted is no small feat. More importantly, though, we are happy to have produced and published work that is of cultural relevance to Caribbean nationals. It is not uncommon to find persons in Jamaica and the Caribbean with heart complications, so we wanted to conduct research that would benefit the people and communities in which we serve, and I believe we have done that with this report,” he said.

The study breaks down demographic factors such as sex, age, and race/ethnicity that affect the severity of the virus in a patient. It states that men are admitted to hospitals at a higher rate, and show a higher mortality rate after having contracted the highly contagious disease. Men over the age of 85 are particularly vulnerable with a hospitalisation rate of 31 per cent. The study also references statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggest that the disease disproportionately affects the black community.

The revelations of the new study will equip the medical fraternity with relevant knowledge to more adequately treat Jamaicans with heart conditions who have contracted the virus. The HIC advises all Jamaicans to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols implemented by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, such as wearing masks, washing and sanitising hands, and practising social distancing.