The coronavirus can apparently also lead to a special form of cardiomyopathy, i.e. a disease of the heart muscle: stress cardiomyopathy, called broken heart syndrome. </p><div> <p>There are first reports that this form of cardiomyopathy, which occurs mainly in women after severe psychological stress situations, is also to be found in connection with Covid, said the director of cardiology at the Innsbruck Med-Uni-Klinik, Axel Bauer, in the APA Interview.</p>
But the good news: Such cases usually go “well,” says Bauer. In stress cardiomyopathy, massive stress hormone releases occur, which can subsequently affect the heart muscle. The loss of a life partner can be a trigger.
In addition, what applies to the other medical areas in connection with Corona also applies to the field of cardiology: Two thirds of all patients with severe courses have previous illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes or are overweight. Older age is also a strong risk factor. Often the virus does not cause any direct damage to the heart.
In the event of damage, however, according to the doctor, the patterns are “varied”. The “classic heart attack” is only one form of manifestation, but not a common consequence of Covid, explained Bauer. In around a third of the cases, however, a deterioration of heart muscle cells can be determined in laboratory tests. In general, the following applies: people with pre-existing cardiac diseases have an increased risk of a severe course of infection with SARS-CoV-2 compared to patients without pre-existing diseases. The reasons are primarily limited reserves and a weakened immune system.
However, Bauer urged a “sober consideration” of the risks of a Covid infection – not least in terms of handling in hospitals. “The probability of dying from cardiovascular disease is almost five times as high,” he emphasized, referring to the first official figures that show that in 2020 there will be around 32,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in Austria given, while around 6,500 deaths would have been assigned to Covid disease.
With regard to the hospitals, the expert pointed out how important it is to define “critical care areas” that have to be protected and operated unimpaired in the event of another corona wave. This included all areas for the treatment of life-threatening diseases and in particular emergency care – such as the therapy of heart attacks or other internal diseases, strokes and urgent surgical interventions. “We have had very good experiences with this prioritization concept in our center and learned a lot for the future during the first wave. At that time, it was still completely unknown with what force the pandemic would hit our health system. The focus at that time was accordingly put on Corona, “says Bauer. Here it is important to weigh up the future rationally in order to keep collateral damage as low as possible. During the second wave – for example in Innsbruck – the right lessons were already drawn from the experiences of the first.
The 23rd Cardiology Congress will take place in Innsbruck from Thursday to Saturday. Due to the corona, it will be held virtually. A separate session with prominent speakers will be dedicated to the topic of Covid and the heart.