34 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • MAY 2020
DR. THIERRY DUCHATELLIER
COVID-19’S HEART IMPACT
Since coronavirus is a respiratory
illness, much of the focus has been on
how the virus impacts patients’ lung
function, but COVID-19 is also taking a
toll on their tickers, experts say.
While hypertensive heart disease
has proven to be the underlying
medical condition with the highest
mortality rate among coronavirus
patients in New York State, studies
show COVID-19 is also causing damage
to cardiovascular systems in
patients without preexisting cardiac
“There seems to be a significant impact
on the cardiac system due to multiple
factors, such as hypoxia and immune
response … causing significant inflammation,
inflaming the wall of arteries,
and heart failure,” says Dr. Thierry
Duchatellier, section chief of the cardiology
department at Mercy Medical
Center in Rockville Centre.
The cardiologist pointed to a March
study published in JAMA Cardiology
by experts at The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston
that found even in the absence of
heart disease, the heart can be
affected by coronavirus. Past viral
pandemics have been documented
to have similar coronary effects, the
“Overall, injury to heart muscle can
happen in any patient with or without
heart disease, but the risk is higher
in those who already have heart disease,”
said Dr. Mohammad Madjid,
the study’s lead author and an assistant
professor of cardiology
at McGovern Medical School at
Dr. Duchatellier is especially
concerned, having been at the
forefront of the pandemic on
Long Island. A part-time staffer
at his hospital
c o r o n a -
v i r u s
t h e
doctor’s been part of a team working
overtime in the midst of an unprecedented
test of the region’s healthcare
His advice? People diagnosed with
hypertension, coronary disease, or
irregular heart rhythm should keep
up with their medications and be
especially cautious about heeding
the social-distancing mandates.
He urges taking advantage of
telehealth to avoid infection at
a medical center. And to look on
the bright side.
“We are facing the greatest
challenge that we’ve had so far
from a healthcare system,” he
says, “but we will come out of it
and we will learn a great deal
from it … We will make the best
out of this lousy situation.”
Dr. Thierry Duchatellier is chief of cardiology at Mercy
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