Cardiologist explains effects of COVID-19 on the heart

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:29 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Though COVID-19’s deadliest symptoms are related to the lungs, there can be severe cardiovascular complications that come along with the virus.

COVID-19 can weigh heavy on the heart, both figuratively and literally. Dr. Richard Gilmore, a cardiologist at CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital, discussed the heart complications patients with COVID-19 infections can develop.

“During the reaction to the virus, the blood can get excessively thick and clot and cause heart attacks, blood clots in the lungs,” Dr. Gilmore said.

Dr. Gilmore adds that COVID-19 could also cause an inflammatory response.

“It’s where the tissues in the body become irritated, including the heart. And we get what’s called a myocarditis or a pericarditis. This even occurs in children who have COVID,” Dr. Gilmore said.

The effects on the cardiovascular system can sometimes be a matter of life and death.

“I’ve seen multiple patients who had a COVID infection, and then they have a heart attack or stroke or some kind of lethal secondary cardiac complication from the COVID infection,” Dr. Gilmore said. “By the time the COVID infection has really set in, the horse is out of the barn to a certain extent. And the best thing, the best way to treat COVID is not to get it in the first place and to get vaccinated.”

With many life-threatening complications attributed to the virus, Dr. Gilmore urges people to take precautions. Gilmore said he believes if everyone gets vaccinated, there’d be fewer hospitalizations, allowing the healthcare system to find a sense of normalcy.

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