Amid concerns revolving around the effects of the coronavirus booster shots on people with heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors, health experts advocated for precaution dose, and said there is no definite link between heart dysfunction and Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr Vivek Chaturvedi, Professor and Head of Department (HOD), Cardiology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, noted that there had been some instances of heart-related issues in the patients after vaccination. However, he added that there is no conclusive evidence to prove this.
“This is a very thorny question because we do see heart attacks happening. Not just attacks, sometimes fluid around the heart, sometimes Arrhythmias of the heart after vaccination. But it is very difficult to confirm this because these were happening in the past also," news agency ANI quoted Dr Chaturvedi as saying.
The doctor noted that coronavirus can affect the heart and heart-related ailments may get aggravated in people getting infected with Covid-19.
“Covid can affect a person’s heart in many ways. The most common problem which has been found is that the people who have had heart disease in the past, their heart disease can get flared and aggravated. They can have heart attacks and heart failure and also Arrhythmia," he said.
Further, Dr Chaturvedi noted that people with no history of heart-related ailments but have diabetes, and blood pressure can get a heart attack, “and many such cases have come which is precipitated by Covid."
“Thirdly, even if no heart attack is precipitated, when Covid is severe, it is known to cause heart dysfunctions, heart blocks, and different types of rapid heart rate called Arrhythmias," he added.
When asked about the increase in deaths due to heart-related issues since the onset of the pandemic, Dr Chaturvedi agreed that Covid-19 infections have increased the risk for heart attacks in infected people.
“Yes, this has been a big controversy because a lot of death was occurring at home during Covid when it was at its peak because people were afraid to go out but, data that has been carefully analyzed from certain countries has shown that Covid definitely had increased the risk for heart attacks," he said
Health experts also advised people recovering from Covid-19 infection to engage in moderate to strenuous exercises or gym for at least six weeks.
Dr Vinayak Agrawal, Director, Non-Invasive Cardiology, Fortis, Gurugram, speaking to ANI, said that the road to recovery of an individual after Covid-19 infection may differ for different persons.
He also noted that any person who needs to be hospitalised in the ICU with severe lung disease or other infections may need supervised recovery.
“Post Covid infection, the road to recovery or rehabilitation is quite individualistic. For someone, who required hospitalization or ICU care during Covid with significant lung or heart or multisystem involvement, there would obviously be a need for prolonged and supervised gradual recovery or rehab inputs," he said.
For people with mild or asymptomatic infection, Dr Agarwal advised that if they experience significant fatigue/ weakness, out-of-proportion breathlessness at rest or walking, and chest discomfort on walking or dizziness, then they should consult a specialist consult, “further investigations including blood tests like troponin levels, NT proBNP (biomarkers), ECG, 24-hour ECG (Holter), Echocardiogram or cardiac MRI may be done."
“Go slow, and do not resume moderate to strenuous exercises or gym initially for 4 to 6 weeks post-Covid diagnosis. Patients returning to high-level sports or physically demanding occupations following confirmed heart involvement require 3-6 months or longer period of complete rest. If you continue to experience symptoms after a few weeks, consult your doctor to rule out long Covid syndrome," he added.