Cardiovascular Health and Disease in the Context of COVID-19

Sidhant Umbrajkar, Rachel V. Stankowski, Shereif Rezkalla, Robert A. Kloner


First documented in China in early December 2019, the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread rapidly and continues to test the strength of healthcare systems and public health programs all over the world. Underlying cardiovascular disease has been recognized as a risk factor for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related morbidity and mortality since the early days of the pandemic. In addition, evidence demonstrates cardiac and endothelial damage in somewhere between one-third and three-quarters of individuals with COVID-19, regardless of symptom severity. This damage is thought to be mediated by direct viral infection, immunopathology and hypoxemia with the additional possibility of exacerbation via medication-induced cardiotoxicity. Clinically, the cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19 may present as myocarditis with or without arrhythmia, endothelial dysfunction and thrombosis, acute coronary syndromes and heart failure. Presentation can vary widely and may or may not be typical of the condition in an individual without COVID-19. There is evidence to support the prognostic utility of cardiac biomarkers (e.g., cardiac troponin) and imaging studies (e.g., echocardiography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging) in the context of COVID-19 and building evidence suggests that cardiovascular screening may be warranted even among those with asymptomatic or mild infection and those without traditional cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, evidence suggests the potential for long-term cardiovascular consequences for those who recover from COVID-19 with implications for the field of cardiology long into the future. Even among those without COVID-19, disruption of infrastructure and changes in human behavior as a result of the pandemic also have an upstream role in cardiovascular outcomes, which have already been documented in multiple locations. This review summarizes what is currently known regarding the pathogenic mechanisms of COVID-19-related cardiovascular injury and describes clinical cardiovascular presentations, prognostic indicators, recommendations for screening and treatment, and long-term cardiovascular consequences of infection. Ultimately, medical personnel must be vigilant in their attention to possible cardiovascular symptoms, take appropriate steps for clinical diagnosis and be prepared for long-term ramifications of myocardial injury sustained as a result of COVID-19.

Cardiol Res. 2021;12(2):67-79


COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Cardiovascular disease; Myocardial damage; Endothelial dysfunction; Viral infection; Inflammation

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