The risk of suffering a heart attack and stroke increases threefold in the first two weeks after falling ill with covid-19, shows a new study from Umeå University published in The Lancet.
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether covid-19 is an acute risk factor for heart attack and stroke, says Anne-Marie Fors Connolly, researcher at the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Umeå University and principal responsible for the study.
– In the first two weeks after covid-19, we saw a threefold increase in the risk of heart attack and ischemic stroke, she says.
Ischemic means a stroke caused by a blood clot.
The largest study to date
The study is based on all 86,742 covid-19 patients in Sweden between February and 14 September 2020 and 348,481 controls. The researchers compared the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke in covid-19 patients with the incidence in the control subjects.
It is the largest published study to date examining the risk of heart attack and stroke in covid-19.
The risk was calculated using two different statistical methods, says Fors Connolly.
– We got the same results in both methods.
Furthermore, the study shows that the risk of heart attack and stroke during weeks three and four after covid-19 doubles.
It is important to get vaccinated
It is not known why the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction increases with covid-19.
– The study shows how important it is to get vaccinated. Especially for the elderly population, says Anne-Marie Fors Connolly.
Ioannis Katsoularis, a specialist in cardiology and a doctoral student at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and a shared first author of the study, agrees.
“The results indicate that acute cardiovascular complications may represent an important clinical manifestation of covid-19. Our results also show the importance of vaccinating against covid-19, especially older people, who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease,” he says in a press release.