Preexisting arrhythmia may increase the risk of poor outcomes in people hospitalized with COVID-19. COVID-19 can also lead to new onset arrhythmia in those without a preexisting heart condition.
Having a preexisting heart condition is one factor that can increase your risk of serious illness. Some research has found that individuals with preexisting arrhythmia may be at a higher risk from COVID-19.
What is arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia is a problem with the rhythm or rate of your heartbeat. People that have an arrhythmia have a heart that can beat too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly.
A 2021 study of people with AFib found that the preexisting use of blood clot-preventing drugs lowered the risk of COVID-19 death. These types of drugs are used by some people with AFib to lower the risk of blood clots.
The way AFib may contribute to an increased risk of death due to COVID-19 is unknown. Several factors could be at play, likely in combination with each other, including:
- direct viral infection of the heart, which may damage heart tissue or disrupt the electrical impulses involved in heartbeats
- the immune system’s response to the infection, which can lead to increased inflammation throughout your body
- the higher risk of blood clots associated with COVID-19
- low blood oxygen levels, which may damage heart tissue
- electrolyte imbalances and dehydration
It’s important to know that most of the research into AFib and COVID-19 has been done in people already hospitalized with COVID-19. As such, it’s unclear what effect mild or moderate COVID-19 illness would have on people with AFib.
Most mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 can be treated with at-home care. This typically involves:
- staying hydrated
- getting plenty of rest
- using over-the-counter (OTC) medications to ease symptoms such as fever and aches and pains
When to see a doctor
It’s also important to contact a doctor if you notice that your arrhythmia symptoms are worsening when you’re ill. Some examples of symptoms to look out for are:
Call 911 or local emergency services or seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms. These are signs that your COVID-19
- difficulty breathing
- pain or pressure in your chest that doesn’t go away
- trouble with staying awake or with waking up
- skin, lips, or nails that are pale, blue, or gray in color
Should you take Paxlovid if you have preexisting arrhythmia and COVID-19?
If you develop COVID-19, are at a high risk of serious illness, and take medications that interact with Paxlovid, a doctor may recommend an
It’s possible for COVID-19 to lead to arrhythmia in people without a preexisting heart condition. A
- Atrial arrhythmias were most common, followed by ventricular arrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias.
- People who developed arrhythmia were more likely to have other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart failure.
- Arrhythmias were associated with high morbidity and mortality.
Severe side effects due to the COVID-19 vaccine are
- redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site
- fever, with or without chills
- muscle aches and pains
In addition to staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, other
- avoiding contact with those who have or are suspected to have COVID-19
- washing your hands frequently
- improving the air flow and ventilation in your home
- moving activities outdoors whenever possible
- wearing a face covering, such as a mask, or practicing physical distancing, if necessary
People with heart conditions can be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19. Some research has found that preexisting arrhythmia, particularly AFib, may increase the risk of death due to COVID-19.
But most of this research has been conducted in people who were already hospitalized for serious COVID-19. It’s unclear how mild or moderate COVID-19 affects people with arrhythmia.
COVID-19 can also increase the risk of new onset cardiovascular disease, including arrhythmia. As such, it’s important to take steps to prevent developing COVID-19, such as getting vaccinated and washing your hands frequently.