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Heart Health Linked With COVID-19 Disease Severity

Heart disease was seen to increase odds of severe disease by nearly four-fold.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of Liverpool has discovered that individuals with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19.

Results from the study were published in the European Heart Journal - Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes.

"Early in the pandemic, concerns were raised about the potential for COVID-19 to cause cardiovascular complications or exacerbate existing heart disease because of prior knowledge from influenza epidemics and outbreaks of other respiratory viruses,” Stephanie Harrison, lead author on the study said. “These findings suggest that these initial concerns were correct."

For the study, investigators commissioned by Public Health England analyzed reviews and consolidated the data to find associations between cardiovascular risk factors or cardiovascular disease and outcomes for patients with COVID-19, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on cardiovascular health.

In total, the investigators looked at 32 reviews, including studies that had up to 45,000 participants with COVID-19.

Findings from the study showed that high blood pressure, current or past smoking, obesity, diabetes, previous stroke or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and kidney disease were all risk factors that were associated with a higher likelihood of worse outcomes from COVID-19.

Individuals with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and/or heart disease were seen to have more than double the risk of dying from an infection with COVID-19. Additionally, heart disease was seen to increase the odds of developing severe disease by almost four-fold.

"Many of the cardiovascular risk factors associated with more severe consequences from COVID-19 are potentially modifiable," Harrison said. "Clinicians and policy makers should consider that strategies which improve cardiovascular health may also improve outcomes for people following COVID-19."