Covid-19 increases the risk of heart attack and stroke

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.

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“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.

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