Australians dying from fatal heart attacks SPIKED by 17 per cent last year – as experts offer reasons for the frightening rise

  • Deaths from fatal heart attacks jumped 17 per cent
  • Doctors have blamed Covid and impacts of lockdowns
  • GP’s have urged Aussies to book a heart check 

More Australians than ever are dying from fatal heart attacks due to the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic and the impact of the virus on the heart.

Up to 10,200 Aussies died of ischemic heart disease in the first eight months of 2022 – marking a 17 per cent increase over what would be expected in a ‘normal’ year. 

Doctors say the effects of the pandemic increased pre-existing risk factors with some people having a heightened risk of disease after recovering from the virus. 

While heart disease has been a leading cause of deaths for several years, experts say lockdowns meant many patients presented much later with progressive symptoms. 

Experts haven’t had to look far to find links between coronavirus and cardiovascular issues, with one study finding hospitalisations had ballooned after the pandemic. 

More than 22,000 Aussies died of ischemic heart disease in the first eight months of 2022 – marking a 17 per cent increase from the year before (stock image)

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found that hospitalisations of people with myocarditis and pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, heart attacks, and stroke were significantly more frequent after Covid. 

‘The estimated risk of myocarditis or pericarditis after SARS‐CoV‐2 infection is 18–21 times as high as for uninfected people,’ the study stated. 

Myocarditis relates to the inflammation of the heart muscle while pericarditis is the swelling of the thin saclike tissue surrounding the heart. 

‘Similarly, the risk of acute myocardial infarction is 3–6 times, that of ischaemic stroke 3–10 times, and the risk of venous thrombo‐embolism (blood clots in the veins) up to eight times as high,’ it continued. 

The study also found that vaccination can reduce the risk of non‐respiratory complications of Covid, including ischaemic stroke. 

Cardiologists say the impact of the virus on the hospital system also saw a number of patients presenting in the late stage of disease – with diagnosis and treatment also delayed throughout the pandemic.  

Professor Steve Nicholls, a cardiologist, told the Sydney Morning Herald that doctors had been concerned sufferers of heart disease would be overlooked as the virus took hold. 

While heart disease has been a leading cause of deaths for several years, experts say lockdowns meant many patients presented much later with progressive symptoms

While heart disease has been a leading cause of deaths for several years, experts say lockdowns meant many patients presented much later with progressive symptoms

‘So it’s not just that a lot of people are dying, but we’re seeing a lot of people at a whole range of different stages of [heart] disease,’ he said.

‘One of our concerns early on in Covid was that we were going to miss people early [in heart disease] and then people would tend to present later.’

Australia has recorded an uptick in serious heart problems, with rates of heart attacks and strokes higher in people who have recovered from the virus, compared to those who have never been infected. 

Some of the biggest contributors to heart disease is high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, as well as family history. 

As fatality rates continue to climb, doctors have urged Australians to get their hearts checked after the number of appointments dipped during Covid lockdowns.

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