The COVID Comorbidity Crisis
Evidence of heart complications in survivors of COVID-19 raises significant concerns about the lasting impact of the pandemic. Not only does the prevalence of non-communicable diseases increase the risks associated with the virus, but the virus apparently is adding to the global burden of NCDs.
ABUJA – Growing evidence shows that COVID-19 survivors can suffer from long-term health effects, not least heart-related complications. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that many people who recover from the virus have heart inflammation (myocarditis). Of 100 survivors in the study, 78 had evidence of previous heart inflammation, and 60 showed ongoing inflammation at the time of observation.
This medical complication should worry us all. As of August 25, 2020, there were more than 23 million cases of the disease worldwide, 16 million recoveries, and more than 800,000 deaths. Using the JAMA study as a benchmark, we could conjecture that around ten million of those survivors have heart inflammation, implying a massive increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs were already killing far too many people before the pandemic arrived. In 2016, 54% of 56.9 million total deaths were due to at least one of the ten leading causes of deaths, starting with ischemic heart disease (the narrowing of blood vessels) and then stroke – both of which are NCDs of the heart.