The most common symptoms if present may include low-grade fever, sore throat, coughing and nasal congestion, weakness, body aches. Coronavirus can cause severe symptoms including high-grade fever, severe cough and tightness in chest or shortness of breath – which often is a sign of pneumonia secondary bacterial infection. Some people may remain asymptomatic after infection.
There should be a cause for concern when you experience shortness of breath. You feel as if you are out of breath unexpectedly. Shortness of breath should not always be troublesome as you may have it when you are very much anxious or worried or when you work hard physically. Such type of shortness of breath goes on its own.
Shortness of breath is one of the prominent signs of covid-19. It has been so since the recent outbreak and still be true as it has become pandemic. If you feel that every time you are breathing harder and harder and having trouble getting air in, you must call your doctor. Meantime you should also see whether you have symptoms like fever and cough because only shortness of breath in absence of cough and fever could indicate another problem which could also be life-threatening – for instance, heart attack.
Coronavirus outbreak is a recent one – and therefore, the time from exposure to onset of symptoms (incubation period) in majority of the people has not yet been completely determined. So far, from the available sources, and information, the incubation period varies from 5 days to 14 days or more. On an average, the incubation period is around 5 days.
The mode of infection is droplets. Coronavirus disease is extremely contagious as it spreads from person to person. It spreads quite readily between individuals who are in close contact with each other. If a person comes in contact with an infected person, he may get infected if the infected person sneezes and coughs and spreads the droplets in an around – when the droplets fall in the mouth or nose of someone nearby, they inhale the droplets. The other mode of transmission of coronavirus is by contacting or touching contaminated surfaces. If a person touches any surface or object that has coronavirus on it and then touches his or her nose, mouth and eyes, they can get infected by COVID-19.
Researchers from a renowned virology institute published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on 17 March, 2020. They used a nebulizer and blew coronavirus in air and then found that the virus remained in air for around 3 hours. Therefore, they found that the virus could remain in the air for around three hours. This study was done by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Laboratory of Virology in the Division of Intramural Research in Hamilton.
According to a research study done at the Laboratory of Virology in the Division of Intramural Research in Hamilton, Coronavirus can hangout as droplets in the air for up to 3 hours before they fall. However, the virus falls far more quickly most of the time.Coronavirus survival times on surfaces varies. On plastic and stainless-steel surfaces, the virus survives for two to three days and on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on copper up to 4 hours. Survival times depends on other factors such as cold, heat and sunlight and the time for which the virus got exposed to such conditions. But, still, there is lot more to be learned about how different conditions can affect survival times. Whatever may be the case, as we get more inputs and insights through research, we will learn more about coronavirus. Until we learn more about it, we should, as a top priority, clean all frequently touched surfaces including, elevator switches, gates handles, door handles, doorknobs, counters, tables, tabletops, telephones, cell phones, laptops, tablets, keyboards, bathroom fixers, faucets, taps, sinks, washbasins, keys, keychains, laptop bags, hand bags, etc. If you see a visibly dirty surface, first clean it with detergent and water and then use a liquid disinfectant to clean the surface. Don’t directly bring any items from outside without sanitizing them. Every time when you touch something or any surface or any stuff or item – wash your hands with soap and water for about 25 to 30 seconds to completely kill the virus from your hands.
Mortality rate is not so high, but still worrisome considering the way coronavirus spreads. It is not the elderly and children who are at risk even young population is also at risk. When you compare the mortality rate of COVID-19 (about 3% to 4%) with that of MERS (approximately 35%) and SARS (nearly 11%), it appears to be less so far, but more when compared to seasonal flu (about 0.1%). When you look at the total number of cases reported throughout the world and fatality rate, it seems to be low (total number of deaths appear to be low). However, the risk of death among those who are infected is more. When you compare the total number of deaths caused by influenza during this flu season in the US and the rest of the world with the coronavirus deaths, then deaths caused by flu are higher in numbers. In this scenario, the risk of severe and complicated infection, life-threatening infection, secondary infection and deaths due to complications depend on the age, overall health and other underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immunodeficiency diseases and cancer. Young adults and children appear to be at low risk compared to the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions.
There is no confirmed research or reports about the effect of weather or temperature and the spread of coronavirus. Currently it is not clear or we don’t have any information whether warm weather or when temperature shoots up – the cases of COVID-19 will decrease. However, flu and cold viruses spread more when the weather is colder – even during warmer months and days, there is still possibility to become sick with cold and flu – but, right now we cannot say anything about coronavirus in this regard.
The information about novel coronavirus is evolving day by day as the disease is spreading. Healthcare professional and researchers are still learning about the modes of transmission of coronaviruses. The likelihood of virus spreading through food stuff handled and prepared by infected persons is there provided the food prepared and served is raw like salads and dressings. Coronavirus causes severe respiratory tract infection as it is known to spread through airborne droplets (upper respiratory secretions) when someone with infection coughs and sneezes. Therefore, infection could possibly spread through food handled by an infected person who has not washed their hands. COVID-19 virus has also been detected in faeces of infected persons; hence, the possibility of the virus being spread through food cannot be ruled out at this moment. Cooked and hot food kills the virus, but the risk of infection increased by eating raw foods, uncooked foods – such as sandwiches and salads.
CoVid-19 is caused by coronavirus. It is a well-known fact that viral infections cause loss of sense of smell. It is in fact one of the leading causes of loss of smell. Anosmia (loss of smell) could, therefore, be a symptom caused by coronavirus disease as evidence is suggesting this symptom. If people infected with COVID do not have other symptoms, loss of smell could help physicians identify such people. Asymptomatic individuals could potentially infect othersunknowingly.
When you see the reports released from Germany and South Korea, you would be surprised to know that out of three confirmed cases of coronavirus disease two had loss of sense of smell – and, in South Korea, those who tested positive for COVID-19 with other mild symptoms of coronavirus disease, nearly about 30% people had loss of smell.
Based on these findings, loss of sense of smell (anosmia), has been recommended to be included in the list of symptoms associated with COVID-19 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. In addition to the identified symptoms, this symptom too can be used to screen people for COVID-19.
No, this symptom alone cannot be used to screen people for COVID-19. Therefore, loss of smell doesn’t mean that one has COVID-19. The symptom can also be due to allergies, common cold and infections caused by other viruses including rhinoviruses. At present there are no definitive answers for the loss of smell associated with COVID-19. The studies related to anosmia are being going on to know more about the anosmia in people infected with coronavirus disease and to get more clear answers in this regard. Still, more definitive questions pertaining to loss of smell caused by COVID-19 need to be answered including how it is different from the one caused by allergies, other viruses and other causes.
A catheter is a thin long tube. During a cardiac catheterization procedure, a catheter is used to find out how well the heart is working. It is both a diagnostic as well as therapeutic procedure. The catheter is inserted into an artery or a vein (in the arm or groin) that leads to the heart. Coronary angiogram, a diagnostic procedure is done by cardiac catheterization; likewise, coronary angioplasty and coronary stenting are the treatments for heart disease, which are performed by cardiac catheterization.
The objective of cardiac catheterization is to detect heart abnormalities, identify the problems of the heart; know how well the heart is working and to open up the blocked heart arteries. An interventional cardiologist does the following acts during a cardiac catheterization procedure: • Performs Coronary angiogram (coronary angiography) • Opens up a narrowed or blocked segment of a coronary artery by performing a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with stenting (coronary angioplasty) • Checks the pressure of heart chambers • Assesses Heart Chambers’ pumping ability. • Measures oxygen content in the four chambers of the heart from the blood samples taken out • Looks for defects in the valves or chambers of the heart.
• During cardiac catheterization procedure, a dye (a contrast dye) is injected through the catheter. This dye is visible in X-rays imaging. As the dye flows through the heart arteries, the blocked arteries are made visible in the X-rays. In this way blood vessels abnormalities can be detected. The procedure is known as coronary angiogram.
Percutaneous coronary intervention (Coronary angioplasty) is a procedure that involves opening of narrowed and clogged heart arteries. In a typical angioplasty procedure, a balloon catheter is inserted in an artery and then threaded to the blocked area of the coronary artery to help open it. The procedure improves blood flow to the heart. To lower the chance of narrowing down of the artery again, a small wire mesh tube (stent) is placed inside the artery. It helps in keeping the artery open by decreasing the chance of narrowing again. Drug-eluting stents are used to help keep the artery open. Bare metal stents may also be used. Angioplasty is done as an emergency procedure during a heart attack to open a blocked artery. It is done quickly to minimize the damage to the heart muscles. The symptoms associated with blocked arteries – such as chest pain and shortness of breath can be improved by angioplasty.
Fats build up, fatty plaques formed, in the heart blood vessels causes a type of heart disease called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis leads to coronary artery disease. If a person develops coronary artery disease, he or she may have chest pain, which may be progressive or worsening. Angioplasty is a preferred mode of treatment for you, if lifestyle modifications and medications are not offering any relief from the worsening symptoms of heart disease. Which means, your angina or chest pain augment and you may also experience shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing. In case of a heart attack, angioplasty can be a life saver as it quickly helps in opening up a blocked artery by minimizing the damage to the heart muscles.
Angioplasty may or may not be an option for you. Your doctor may decide whether coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery is good for you based on the extent of heart disease, your symptoms and your overall health.
A catheter with a balloon at its tip is inserted into the artery and guided to the narrowed area of the artery. Once the catheter with balloon reaches the spot, the balloon is inflated and the plaque is pushed. The stretched artery is kept open to boost blood flow to the heart.
Through the small hollow plastic tubes (catheters), a guide wire with balloon and stent is inserted and threaded to the narrowed coronary artery. Once the wire reaches the spot, the balloon is inflated and the stent is expanded to the size of the artery and holds it open. While the stent remains fix in its place, the balloon is deflated and removed. After a few weeks, the artery heals around the stent. Stenting is done during coronary angioplasty procedure to help keep stent in place and the narrowed coronary artery open. Usually a stent is made of metal and it is permanent.
Echocardiogram (Echo) or echocardiography or diagnostic cardiac ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of the heart – its walls, chambers, and blood vessels (arteries, aorta and veins). A probe is rolled around the chest – the sound waves produced by this probe bounce off the heart and echo back to the probe. The waves are then converted into visuals or pictures and then are displayed on a video monitor. These images help in identifying heart disease and also allow your cardiologist to see how well is your heart beating and pumping blood. Echocardiography helps in creating moving pictures of the internal structures of the heart. It is a harmless and painless procedure. An echocardiogram helps an interventional cardiologist to identify heart disease by assessing and evaluating the changes in the size and shape of the heart, working of the heart chambers, its valves and beating of the heart.
An individual needs echocardiography if a cardiologist suspects the signs and symptoms of heart disease including shortness of breath, chest pain and extreme fatigue. The interventional cardiologist wants to know the cause of the heart disease and the problems with the heart including changes in the size, shape, heart valve defects, heart failure, fluid build-up in the pericardium and problems with the aorta. A cardiologist orders an echocardiogram or echo test to check the structure of your heart and to know whether the heart’s functions are normal. The test is done to determine the size, shape movement and thickness of the heart muscles and walls. You may need an echocardiogram if your doctor wants to know the problems with the chambers or the valves of your heart. Echocardiogram helps in detecting the issues of the large blood vessels that enter and leave the heart. Echocardiography for detecting congenital abnormalities: To know whether the heart issues are due to defects in the heart before birth (congenital heart defects). To know whether the heart chambers have abnormal holes in the heart. The test is known as foetal echocardiogram. An Interventional cardiologist orders an echocardiogram to check heart’s pumping ability and strength; and the functions of the heart valves. The test may also be recommended to check whether blood is leaking backwards (regurgitation) through the heart valves; if stenosis (narrowing of heart valves) is present; whether an infectious disease or tumour has grown around the heart valves. Echocardiogram will also help your doctor to find out blood clots in the chambers of the heart; issues in the pericardium the membrane of your heart.
Coronary arteries supply blood rich in oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. These arteries lumen narrows down due to the deposition of a hard wax like substance comprising of varying amounts of cholesterol, calcium and other cells (Plaque). The thickening of the arteries wall due to plaque formation is known as Atherosclerosis. Coronary arteries become narrow or clogged due to this condition (coronary artery disease). Atherosclerosis leads to Coronary artery disease.
Obesity, eating excess fat diet, stress, eating unhealthy or junk foods, lack of physical activity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, are the lifestyle-related preventable or manageable risk factors of heart disease. The other risk factors that are uncontrollable include age, family history of heart disease, genetic makeup. Men and women age over 45 to 55 years are at increased risk of arteriosclerosis. A strong family history is also another risk factor for coronary artery disease.
A sudden stoppage of heart beating and function is known as a sudden cardiac arrest. Due to sudden cardiac arrest, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops. When the heart tissue responsible for generating regular electrical stimulus is damaged – the heart muscles’ contraction gets disturbed – owing to which the heart stops pumping blood effectively. When the heart stops pumping blood, then within a few minutes’ death occurs. This is known as sudden cardiac death due to cardiac arrest. This happens when the heart’s electrical signals go haywire or become erratic (abnormal arrhythmias). Rapid pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an electric shock by using a defibrillator is an indispensable procedure for restoring the organized electrical activity of the heart and effective pumping ability. It is a life-saving procedure for those having a massive cardiac arrest.
Women may have heart disease risk after age 40 and after menopause. With advancing age, the risk of heart disease in women increases. When a woman reaches age 50 or natural menopause, heart disease risk increases manifold. Younger women who have had hysterectomy or who have undergone surgical menopause, the risk of heart disease increases.
Heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when there is a damage caused to the heart or to an area of the heart muscles. This happens when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) get clogged. The lumen of the coronary artery narrows down due to the accumulation of fatty deposits in the form of plaque. The plaque breaks down with the formation of clot resulting in complete stoppage of blood flow to a part of the heart muscles. This is known as heart attack. Heart attack or myocardial infarction can be life-threatening.
A weak heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the requirements and demands of the body. The pumping efficiency of the heart becomes very weak – owing to which the heart cannot pump blood with the required force (the force which is needed to pump the blood). There are two situations of a weak heart – it cannot pump with enough force or it cannot get filled with enough blood. Some people have either or both of these heart issues. This condition is known as heart failure. It is a progressive condition wherein a heart becomes weak. Heart failure is a serious health issue as it demands timely medical intervention. The risk factors for heart failure are ischemic heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Smoking is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. It potentially increases the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Smoking makes the blood thick by depleting the oxygen levels and increasing RBCs in the blood; low levels of blood oxygen leads to less oxygen supply to the heart muscles. The heart muscles can become weak over a period of time. Smoking induces severe damage to the cells lining the blood vessels prompting inflammation and plaque build-up. Smoking also increasing blood clotting, blood pressure and heart rate.
Diet is a modifiable or preventable risk factor of heart disease. It is in fact one of the prominent risk factors for heart disease. If you know what diet to have you can minimize the risk of developing heart disease. As far as a balanced and healthy diet is concerned, it is rich in vitamins and minerals, low in fats, sugars and salts and rich in fibre and proteins. Healthy diet helps in lowering the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease and thus helps in preventing heart attack. It also helps in lowering blood sugar levels.
Eat colourful fruits and vegetables – whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits; reduce salt intake and eat lean protein foods – chicken, fish and soy. Avoid refined sugars and fats – cakes, pastries and sweats – instead eat complex sugars rich pasta, whole-wheat grain and whole rice. Avoid red meat, saturated fats, sodas, sweats, soft drinks and caffeinated beverages.