In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've learned that the virus doesn't discriminate by age. Young, healthy individuals, like Demi Washington, a basketball player at Vanderbilt University, have experienced severe health complications due to the virus. Washington developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after contracting COVID-19. This condition can decrease the heart's ability to pump blood and can lead to stroke or heart attack.
This alarming development is not an isolated incident. A recent study by Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles found that heart attack deaths in people aged 25 to 44 increased by nearly 30% over the first two years of the pandemic. This is a stark reminder that COVID-19 is not "just another respiratory virus."
COVID-19 can greatly impact the cardiovascular system. It can increase the stickiness of the blood, stir up inflammation in the blood vessels, and cause an overwhelming stress that can spike blood pressure. The risk of developing a heart condition, such as irregular heartbeat, heart failure, inflammation, or heart attacks, is substantial even a year after infection, regardless of how severe symptoms were.
So, how can we protect ourselves and our loved ones from these heart-related complications of COVID-19? Here are some steps we can take:
Wear a Mask: Wearing a mask, especially in crowded settings, can significantly reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Masks act as a barrier to prevent virus-laden droplets from entering our respiratory system.
Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccinations: Research shows that you're 11 times more likely to develop myocarditis from COVID itself versus the vaccine. Keeping your vaccinations up-to-date is crucial in preventing severe complications from the virus.
Monitor Your Health: If you've been infected with COVID-19, especially multiple times, it's important to stay on top of your risk factors for heart disease, such as your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Regular check-ups can help detect any health issues early and keep chronic conditions under control.
Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and staying hydrated. These habits can boost your immune system and increase your resistance to infections.
Take a COVID-19 Test: As soon as you start to develop any symptoms, take a COVID-19 test and stay home when you're sick. Early detection can help prevent the spread of the virus and allow for early treatment.
In the face of this ongoing threat, it's crucial to stay informed and take measures to reduce the risk of catching or transmitting COVID-19. The fight against this pandemic is far from over, and we must continue to prioritize public health and safety.