Impact of COVID-19 infection on the cardiovascular system: An evidence-based analysis of risk factors and outcomes

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as COVID-19, emerged in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Disease progression from COVID-19 infection has shown significant symptom manifestations within organ systems beyond the respiratory system. The literature has shown increasing evidence of cardiovascular involvement during disease course and an associated increase in mortality among infected patients. Although the understanding of this novel virus is continually evolving, it is currently proposed that the mechanism by which the SARS-CoV-2 virus contributes to cardiovascular manifestations involves the ACE2 transmembrane protein. The protein ACE2 is highly expressed in blood vessel pericytes, and infection can result in microvascular dysfunction and subsequent acute coronary syndromes. Complications involving the cardiovascular system include myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, shock, and heart failure. In this evidence-based review, we discuss risk factors of cardiovascular involvement in COVID-19 infection, pathophysiology of COVID-19-related cardiovascular infection, and injury, COVID-19 effects on the cardiovascular system and corresponding treatments, and hematologic effects of COVID-19 and COVID-19 in heart transplant patients. Clinicians managing COVID-19 patients should appreciate the potential cardiovascular effects related to the disease process.

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