COVID-19 has affected health in ways both direct and indirect. The disease has now taken more than a million deaths globally. However, more indirect effects could linger for decades even after the disease has been controlled or eradicated. Heart disease may be among these issues.
A study conducted by Bharti AXA General Insurance has revealed that among urban Indians affected by lockdown restrictions, rates of stress and resulting hypertension have risen significantly. Stress related to the pandemic is not unexpected. Mental health among individuals worldwide has been impacted by both the fear of the disease and the social isolation associated with lockdown measures. Bharti AXA General Insurance managing director and chief executive officer Sanjeev Srinivasan said, “it is evident through this study that stress can be an invisible but major contributor to heart disorders.”
The study involved more than 1,000 individuals across multiple cities. It found that older respondents seemed far more apprehensive about not being able to socialise. Almost fifty percent of respondents above the age of 45 experienced anxiety due to not being able to meet friends or family members compared to only 36 percent of respondents between the age of eighteen and 34.
This indirect effect of the societal measures taken against COVID-19 further complicates the matter. The direct effects of the disease have already — and continue to — take their toll on both India and indeed the world. For prolonged effects to occur makes the disease even more deadly.
It has already been documented that the COVID-19 virus can have lasting physical impacts on the body, even after infections have subsided. As previously reported by Health Issues India, researchers in the United States have found that those infected with COVID-19 may display symptoms of heart damage such as inflammation and injury. This worrying trend sometimes applies even to those whose infection was not severe.
“We basically die with the heart-muscle cells we’re born with, so anything that results in the death of heart muscle has the potential to irreversibly damage the heart’s mechanical ability and the heart’s electrical function,” said Charles Murry, director of the University of Washington’s Center for Cardiovascular Biology.
Over the last 25 years, India has seen a fifty percent rise in heart disease cases according to doctors at the Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre. Heart disease accounted for 28.1 percent of all deaths in India in 2016, making any rise in risk factors a concerning phenomenon.