Data from China, Italy, Washington state, and New York – among the heaviest hit epicenters of the global coronavirus pandemic – are showing COVID-19 patients dying from cardiac arrest, according to Kaiser Health News.
"It's extremely important to answer the question: Is their heart being affected by the virus and can we do something about it?" New York City cardiologist Dr. Ulrich Jorde told the journal. "This may save many lives in the end."
While the heart is extremely dependent on oxygen, which can be choked off by respiratory illness, it has been a medical mystery how patients without signs of "respiratory distress" are also dying of heart attacks, suggesting the virus can affect the heart muscle in addition to the lungs, according to the report.
"Someone who's dying from a bad pneumonia will ultimately die because the heart stops," Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Dr. Robert Bonow told the journal. "You can't get enough oxygen into your system and things go haywire."
It has been widely reported COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to serious to critical cases of the coronavirus, including diabetes and hypertension.
As many as 20% of cases in an initial study showed cardiac damage leading to heart failure, per the report.
Dr. Bonow reports heart muscle damage in COVID-19 suggests it "attaches to certain receptors in the lungs, and those same receptors are found in heart muscle as well," according to Kaiser.
The findings can change how healthcare professionals treat patients going forward, particularly those with preexisting heart problems.
"We all recognize that because we're at the leading edge, for better or for worse, we need to try to compile information and use it to help advance the field," Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City's Dr. Sahil Parikh told the journal.
"We're taking a step back from that now and thinking about having patients brought to the emergency department so they can get evaluated briefly, so that we could determine: Is this somebody who's really at high risk for COVID-19? And is this manifestation that we're calling a heart attack really a heart attack?"
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.