Conversations about COVID-19 and vaccine availability have added yet another term to our everyday vocabulary: comorbidity. It’s really just a fancy way of saying “underlying health conditions” and in mid-February, it became a qualifier for COVID vaccine eligibility in New York State. 

The full list of NYS-approved comorbidities includes a variety of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, and pulmonary disease. Heart disease is also on the list. 

Evidence links preexisting heart disease (such as hypertension or coronary artery disease) to an increased likeliness of contracting COVID-19. Unfortunately, as if testing positive for COVID doesn’t create enough problems, these are some additional cardiac concerns: 

  • Nearly 25% of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 develop an injury to their heart tissue
  • Preexisting heart disease is also associated with the severity of COVID-19 infection
  • Increased risk for blood clots
  • Increased risk for heart rhythm disturbances

Cardiac Concerns If You’ve Already Had COVID-19

If you have or had COVID-19, it’s important to know that stress on your heart could cause further damage. You should rest for at least a couple of weeks. 

If you’re an active person, ramp up your activity slowly, don’t dial it all the way up straightaway. Notify a doctor if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations while exercising. 

Especially to those who pursue healthy, active lifestyles, I urge you to understand that this is not a time to “push through it.” Even the most elite athletes are not transitioning right from a COVID infection back to game day. My advice is to take a break and slowly ramp it up. 

Emily C Battaglia, MD, FACC

Cardiologist, Sisters of Charity Hospital Cardiology Center

COVID’s Indirect Effects on Heart Health

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiologists have noticed the following patient trends:

  • Less people having cardiovascular testing performed
  • Higher rate of cardiovascular deaths
  • Delays calling 911 or seeking emergency care for a cardiac event due to COVID concerns

A cardiac event is a medical emergency. If you believe you or someone you love to be having a heart attack, or in cardiovascular distress, don’t hesitate to go to the nearest emergency department. The hospital is still the safest place to be


Find Services at the Sisters Cardiology Center
Call (716) 862-2590

Find Services at the Sisters Cardiology Center
Call (716) 862-2590