Long Covid: The heart problem you could experience after initial infection has gone

Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus

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In the majority of Covid cases people make a full recovery within four weeks. However, if symptoms last longer it is likely you have long Covid. The most common complications include fatigue, shortness of breath and muscle aches.

According to Doctor Annette Alaeus, an infectious disease specialist from online GP service, Livi, heart palpitations are a common symptom.

“COVID-19 is considered to be a systemic disease, not just a respiratory disease, even though the virus enters the body through the respiratory system,” she said.

“This systemic involvement is probably immune-related and different individuals react in different ways to the infection.”

She explained: “Despite being initially thought of as a respiratory illness, we now know that the effects of COVID-19 can impact other areas of your body too, including the heart.

“Although more research is needed to explain why long Covid can cause heart palpitations in some instances, experts believe that it could be due to the virus affecting the autonomic nervous system as opposed to the heart itself.

“This part of our nervous system is responsible for regulating a number of the body’s automatic processes including breathing rate, blood pressure and heart rate.”

She recommended talking to a doctor if you think you have long Covid.

Doctor Alaius said: “Palpitations aren’t usually a cause for concern but if they persist or begin to worry you, it’s best to speak to a GP.

“If you’re experiencing heart palpitations along with symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or feeling faint, ring 999 and seek urgent medical help.”

She advised on the best ways to look after the heart.

“As treatment for long Covid is still being identified, it’s important to take extra care of your general health, in particular your heart,” she added.

“Try cutting back on alcohol and caffeine and ensure you’re eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre.

“Try to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt and sugar.“

Regular moderate exercise such as a 30 minute brisk walk every day has proven health benefits to the heart, consult with your doctor to learn how to safely build up your cardiovascular fitness.”

Other symptoms of long Covid include:

  • Cognitive dysfunction, including poor memory and difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chest tightness or heaviness.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that 1.8 million people in the UK (2.8 percent of the population) were experiencing long Covid symptoms as of July this year.

Since the start of the pandemic the Government has recorded a total of 19,745,612 Covid cases in the UK.

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