Published: 11:48 AM, 14 October 2020 Last Update: 12:23 PM, 14 October 2020
The world is in shock by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. No matter the age, whether it is a newborn child or an elderly, it is affecting everyone. Researchers are yet to find a specific vaccine for this highly contagious disease, while the death count is rising each day. The SARS-CoV-2 is more lethal for the people who are suffering from heart diseases as the virus attacks the respiratory system and severely damages the lungs. It leads to shortness of breath and hinders oxygen consumption. As a result, the pressure to the heart increases, and the risk of losing life exponentially rises.
Heart is like a pump that supplies oxygenated blood to the entire body through electrical impulses. Through the veins, the carbon dioxide-containing deoxygenated blood enters the heart from different corners of the body, and oxygenated blood goes to whole body through the artery. Typically, rhythmic or normal heartbeat is rarely felt. But whenever the blood circulation is interrupted, irregularity can be sensed. Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias causes discomfort such as palpitation, and shortness of breath.
In normal circumstances, a person’s heart beats 60-100 times in a minute. However, two types of heartbeats can be observed in the case of arrhythmia - slower pulse than usual is called bradycardia, and a faster heartbeat than the sinus rhythm is called tachycardia. 1 Most of the time, these arrhythmias do not pose a threat. The only symptoms are palpitation, vertigo and chest discomfort. However, some arrhythmias can cause major disruptions in blood circulation and may lead to stroke, syncope and even death if not treated properly in time. Since the SARS-CoV-2 has a severe impact on the respiratory system, everyone needs to be aware of this during this Covid-19 pandemic.
The most commonly observed arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which is usually more common in older people. This type of arrhythmia usually lasts for a short period. 2 The dangerous kind of arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation. Due to this, the ventricles of the heart cannot be properly compressed. As a result, blood circulation from the heart to the brain is interrupted, causing unconsciousness followed by death.
In the case of bradycardia, pacemakers can help the heart from beating too slow and prevent the symptoms and problems that come with it. 3 A pacemaker consists of 2 parts – pulse generator made from metal-containing electronic circuitry and a long-lasting battery and one or two insulated wires called leads. The pulse generator works as a microcomputer to generate and control the timing of the pacing impulses. The pacing leads carry the electrical impulses generated by the pulse generator to the heart. The mere 25 gm smart device can sense the heart’s natural electrical activity and only deliver pacing impulse in case your heart slows down.
There are variants in pacemakers – single chamber, dual chamber, rate-responsive, MR safe pacemakers depending which suits you better. Not everyone has the same types of problems, and treatment and therapy vary accordingly. Pacemakers have made a lot of advancement today and have several features that ensure patient safety at all times.
Cardiovascular diseases cause the precious lives of many people every year across the world. In order to create better awareness regarding various heart diseases and how to prevent those, World Health Organization (WHO), along with the World Heart Foundation (WHF), initiated the celebration of “World Heart Day” in 1999. 4 The day is marked on September 29 every year. Various events including educational workshops, public talks, free health check-ups and sporting events are held globally on this day to help support the concern.
Those who are suffering from different heart disease are advised to be more careful in the wake of the corona pandemic, as they are more prone to get infected than others. They should never avoid their regular medication, physical activity and obviously their doctor’s appointments. They also keep in mind about the available treatments and therapies to live a happy life.
Dr APM Sohrabuzzaman
The writer is the Senior Consultant Cardiologist working at Labaid Cardiac Hospital; President of Bangladesh Heart Rhythm Society; Vice-President of Bangladesh Society of Cardiovascular Intervention.