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After Covid, heart disease has increased

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There is some nervousness among cardiologists about the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on their patients. Scientific publications follow one another showing how from 2020 to 2022 several nations had an excess of deaths from cardiovascular diseases with averages of a couple of hundred per week.

For example, according to the British Medical Journal, the UK had 30,000 more deaths from coronary heart disease between March 2020 and August 2022, with two million more patients in 2021 with uncontrolled hypertension than in 2020. And according to a report According to Eurostat, 2020 saw cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the European Union, with the exception of France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark where cancer held this sad record.

The European Heart Journal reports that in just the two months of March and April 2020, the drop in new accesses to the emergency room in Italy for coronary syndrome or chest pain was 50 percent lower than the previous year; and that in Denmark there was a 47% drop in diagnoses of new-onset atrial fibrillation, with an increase in atrial fibrillation-related fatalities.

As Jonathan Byrne of King’s College Hospital in London explains, «long waiting lists, ambulance delays, the inaccessibility of some hospitals have caused excess deaths, in short, all health services have suffered unexpected consequences from the epidemic. This is why more and more studies are emerging in the literature showing reductions in chemotherapy and treatments against cardiovascular diseases”.

It should be added that from the beginning of the epidemic to today, sedentary lifestyle, the use of the car, working from home have increased and, as a consequence, the incidence of obesity. Smokers have also increased by about 10 percent more than in the pre-pandemic period. Those who used to smoke, now smoke more, those who interacted little with people are now even more alone with an increase in the discomfort of the struggle of living. Drug abuse has also increased with its adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.

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As a result of these lifestyle changes, cardiovascular disease has also increased. Then comes the issue of treatment. During the pandemic, sales of drugs for the treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia fell by more than 20%. Adherence to medications, which is crucial for surviving heart disease, dropped by 50 percent. The future? It does not appear rosy for a variety of diseases, the vascular ones, which are the leading cause of death in the world (in Italy they claim 230,000 victims a year, according to Istat). Without a decisive and effective health policy, 24 million deaths per year are expected in the world against the current 18 and costs that will become difficult to bear for Western democracies and which have already reached one trillion dollars. The new wave of heart patients that is about to arrive requires adequate and motivated personnel and a massive use of telemedicine. In short, a health system that needs to be reconstructed.

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