WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A study revealed that the number of heart attack deaths has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
- The increase was particularly pronounced in young people between the ages of 25 and 44.
- The study authors suggested that it could be because young people’s stronger immunity could also cause an excessive response to the virus.
A recent study has found that the number of deaths from heart attacks increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The increase was more pronounced in people aged between 25 and 44. A 29.9% relative increase in heart attack deaths (about 30% higher than the predicted number) was observed in this age group over the first two years of the pandemic.
Cardiologist Dr. Susan Cheng, a study co-author, told TODAY, “Young people are obviously not really supposed to die of heart attack. They’re not really supposed to have heart attacks at all.”
The relative increase in heart attack deaths among adults between 45 and 64 was 19.6%, and 13.7% for adults 65 and older.
This increase also coincided with COVID-19 surges in the country. Los Angeles County paramedic Romeo Robles told TODAY that such surges would often lead to an increase in emergency calls related to heart issues, even among young people.
Cheng pointed out that the connection is surely “more than coincidental,” since COVID-19 can have a significant impact on the cardiovascular system. She said that the illness appears to increase “the stickiness of the blood,” the probability of “blood clot formation,” blood pressure spikes, and “an overwhelming stress.”
While the reason for the increased rate in young people is still unclear, the study authors posited a theory. Cheng said that young people were more likely to have stronger immune systems which could also lead to an excessive response to the virus.
A February 2022 study of over 150,000 individuals with COVID-19 revealed that COVID-19 survivors are at “substantial” risk of developing heart disease even a year after infection, regardless of their symptoms’ severity and risk factors.
Physician-scientist Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a study co-author, estimated that around 4% of people who had COVID-19 will develop a heart issue that ranges from an irregular heartbeat and inflammation to heart attacks and heart failure.
The risk also increases with each COVID-19 infection an individual experiences.
If you have been infected before, especially multiple times, Cheng advised improving your health and monitoring your risk factors, such as blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Heart attack signs to look out for include: pain, discomfort, or pressure in the chest area; pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, or back; cold sweat; weakness, light-headedness, or fainting; and shortness of breath.
The study noted that the number of heart attacks has been previously decreasing in the country, but the trend increased again since the pandemic.