Each week, OMRF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Judith James opens “Adam’s Journal” to answer a medical question from Adam Cohen, OMRF’s senior vice president & general counsel.
Not long ago, a friend, who is otherwise healthy, recovered from Covid. However, after he was seemingly better, he’s had periodic episodes of his heart beating rapidly for no apparent reason. Should he be concerned?
Dr. James Prescribes
A rapid heart rate, either at rest or accompanying physical exertion, has been a commonly reported symptom in recovering or post-Covid patients. In many cases, it may not be a cause for alarm.
Viral infections like Covid can cause inflammation in the heart lining, a condition known as myocarditis. However, this condition, which can lead to symptoms like heart palpitations or an elevated heart rate, usually resolves over time.
A racing heart following a Covid infection can also be the product of something more straightforward. Prolonged illness and bed rest can cause deconditioning, and a byproduct of losing fitness is an elevated pulse.
Some post-Covid patients also experience a spike in their heart rate when they stand up. This condition, called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, results from an abnormality that regulates blood flow back to your heart.
As time passes, each of these conditions often resolves naturally. As long as a person is not experiencing other accompanying symptoms, such as chest pain, light-headedness or difficulty breathing, their heart likely has not suffered damage due to Covid infection.
A return to physical activity may help alleviate the symptoms. However, this should be done gradually, and patients should be sure to stay hydrated and to stop any activity if they begin to feel dizzy or have other symptoms.
As with any recovery, caution remains the order of the day. If symptoms persist – or if others, such as chest pain, light-headedness or breathing problems, arise – your friend should consult his healthcare provider.
James, a physician-scientist, is executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Cohen is a marathoner and OMRF’s senior vice president and general counsel. Submit your health questions to email@example.com.