Interventional cardiologist at Premier Heart Care Ltd Dr Clifford Thomas has warned that contracting the covid19 virus can have adverse effects on the heart.
Thomas was speaking at a virtual panel discussion on covid19 vaccination hosted by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) on Wednesday.
He said the virus can affect the heart in a number of ways. The virus can directly damage the heart. Because it causes lung problems, it can lead to other issues, including hypoxaemia – low oxygen levels in the blood – clogged arteries and coagulation in all the organs of the body. Coagulation occurs when blood turns from a liquid to a solid or semi-solid state.
He said damaged hearts have a higher chance of heart attacks, an abnormal rhythm and there are also increased tendencies for clotting to occur in the legs and move to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolus – a blood clot in a blood vessel in the lungs.
“One of the things we have to prevent this are vaccines,” said Thomas.
He said people are hesitant about the vaccines and cited a study in Germany that revealed that many people do not think they are safe, or are concerned about possible side effects.
He said there are also a number of conspiracy theories which explain why a significant number of people in TT won’t take the vaccines.
Thomas said minor side effects are common and include soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches and tiredness.
There is a rare but severe complication, however.
“The term is called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).” He said if this occurs, it is usually within the first month of taking the vaccine.
He said symptoms include severe headache and lab results will show a low platelet count. He said in some cases, VITT occurred in blood vessels in the brain, resulting in the headaches and other neurological symptoms.
He said, however, there are treatments available for VITT.
Thomas also said, as the Ministry of Health has warned during its virtual press conferences, those with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are more susceptible to covid19. Other vulnerable groups include the elderly, those with obesity, and smokers.