HEALTH

Researchers find “clear link” between COVID-19 and heart disease

Aug 18, 2020, 8:14 PM
COVID-19 Heart Disease...
(Image credit: Getty Image)
(Image credit: Getty Image)

SALT LAKE CITY—An Intermountain Health Care doctor shares that mounting evidence proving a clear link between COVID-19 and heart disease. 

Kirk U. Knowlton MD, from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, looked at more than 100 published studies related to COVID-19 and heart disease.  It’s published this week in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.  He talks about his findings in a Zoom call and a statement from IHC released Tuesday. 

TWO WAYS VIRUS ATTACKS HEART

Dr. Knowlton says, “There’s clear evidence that COVID can cause heart disease… it affects around one in five patients admitted to the hospital with [the virus.]”  He says this works in two ways. One is from increased clotting in heart vessels, the other from inflammation triggered by the immune system’s fight against the virus. 

The clotting manifestation includes a disorder that may appear as deep-vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.  

The inflammatory effects are varied and can damage the heart as well as other organs. Dr. Knowlton found multiple reports of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, that can damage the heart and affect its ability to pump blood.  Virus-driven myocarditis was one of the reason’s the NCAA’s PAC 12 conference gave when they postponed fall sports this year. 

Dr. Knowlton explains the inflammation that can come with COVID is a reaction from our own defenses against the virus. “Many patients with severe disease experience a cytokine storm. The immune system goes into overdrive and attacks its own cells. This causes multi-organ failure,” he said. “These attacks to the heart are one of the ways that we believe the virus can cause heart damage and myocarditis.”  He says the link is not absolutely clear.

Knowlton believes this also is the culprit behind the Kawasaki-mimicking Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, that’s seen in children who’ve had COVID. MIS-C is rare. 

A GOOD STRATEGY FOR TREATMENT?

Interestingly, Dr. Knowlton thinks the body’s potential inflammatory reaction to COVID gives us insight in how to treat the virus. Treating COVID-19, he said, “is about finding a balance between allowing the immune system to fight the virus, but not so hard that it hurts the heart.” Knowlton says treatments that hurt the virus’s ability to replicate itself would prevent such a severe immune response.  He noted this is how anti-body treatments and the drug Remdesivir can be successful.

Dr. Knowlton points out that this link between heart diseases and transmittable viruses isn’t new. Autopsies of patients who died during the 1918 flu pandemic found heart damage, and 50% of patients who died of polio from 1942 to 1951 had myocarditis, he said.

 

 

Today’s Top Stories

Health

Utah Naloxone...
Devin Oldroyd

Utah Naloxone and law enforcement reach milestone in preventing overdose deaths

Utah Naloxone reports over 600 lives in Utah have been saved thanks to law enforcement's use of naloxone (Narcan®).
3 days ago
Primary Children's Medical Center has canceled some scheduled surgeries and other procedures this w...
Simone Seikaly

Citing rising RSV cases, Primary Children’s delaying some surgeries

Primary Children's is delaying pre-scheduled and non-emergency procedures that would require an inpatient stay.
3 days ago
Shortages of antivirals and antibiotics compound the stress of this year's early and severe respira...
Brenda Goodman and Raenu Charles, CNN

Shortages of antivirals, antibiotics compound stress of a rough season for viral illnesses in kids

Shortages of key medications used to treat common childhood illnesses like flu, ear infections, and sore throats are adding to the misery of this year's early and severe respiratory virus season.
8 days ago
Officials at Weber State University are considering a change to the student health services current...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Weber State University considers outsourcing student health care

Right now, the health center at Weber State provides low-cost care to students and does not require any form of insurance.
9 days ago
carbon monoxide poisoning...
Ali Litzinger

Carbon monoxide poisoning on the rise in winter months

SALT LAKE CITY — Winter is approaching and officials want people to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Last year, nearly 200 Utahns were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.  The flame in a gas appliance should generally be blue, with some orange. If the flame is mostly yellow, it’s giving off excess carbon monoxide.  […]
9 days ago
BYU...
Mark Jackson

BYU wellness students return from Blue zone with healthy lifestyle tips

Some BYU students are learning how to live healthy and happier lives from a trip to Ikaria, Greece.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Researchers find “clear link” between COVID-19 and heart disease