Popularization of research advances on COVID-19

SARS-CoV-2 increases the risks of heart attack

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 190 million people have been infected by SARS-CoV-2. The main risk for infected people is pneumonia, which can develop into acute respiratory distress with a high level of mortality. However, COVID-19 is a complex disease that can affect a number of different organs. It has been reported that infected patients have suffered increased levels of heart problems and strokes. Until recently, studies on this issue had been limited by the number of patients involved. However, researchers at the University of Umeå (Sweden) and the Open University of Milton Keynes (UK) have used a method allowing them to analyse the data of all patients with COVID-19 in Sweden. They were thus able to estimate rates of myocardial infarction or thrombotic disorders following infection by SARS-CoV-2.

This incidence was calculated using data collected between February and September 2020 which was then compared to figures in the overall population. During this period in Sweden, more than 86 000 people were infected by the virus. The average age was 48, and 43% of victims were men. According to the scientists, the risk of heart attack increases by between 3 and 8 times, and of stroke between 3 and 7 times after SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with the overall population. More specifically, in the first two weeks after infection, the risk increases significantly. On the other hand, in the third and fourth weeks following infection, the risk increases only a little.

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