Coronavirus | Post-pandemic stress mistaken for cardiac issues

Most patients who are consulting cardiologists in fact need counselling, says doctor

A pounding heart — giving the sense of an imminent heart attack or other cardiac problems — is making people consult specialist doctors through video calls. Cautioning that only detailed examinations and diagnostic reports can help doctors diagnose the actual cause of the problem, a cardiologist said that stress and anxiety, triggered by various reasons, could give a sense of an abnormal heart rhythm.

A senior consultant cardiologist at KIMS Hospitals in Hyderabad, B. Hygriv Rao, cited the case of a 25-year-old man from Chhattisgarh who complained of palpitations. He had no cardiac issues before and was otherwise healthy.

“This young man’s lifestyle represents the new normal. He works from home, rarely goes out, is off socialisation and reads COVID-19 statistics on the Internet. It didn’t take me long to realise he had no cardiac problem and needed reassurance and a few days of medication for his anxiety,” the cardiologist said.

When a patient with a complaint consults them, doctors check their background, lifestyle, information on vitals and ECG reports, to know if the patient is suffering from cardiac arrhythmia or heart problems, or if it was just a false alarm induced by stress and anxiety. Consulting a doctor helps to know the reason behind the abnormality.

Job insecurity, uncertainty about the future, financial distress, fear of contracting COVID-19 and other issues associated with it are some of the problems building up stress in people. Dr. Rao suggested that counselling by trained psychologists will help those suffering from such anxiety-induced problems.

He said there are two categories of COVID-19 patients who might genuinely suffer from cardiac problems. The first set of people are those with pre-existing cardiac issues which worsen after contracting COVID-19. The second are those who develop cardiac issues after getting the infectious disease.

However, there have been many cases of cardiac patients who contracted COVID-19 and have recovered in government hospitals in Telangana, he said.

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