A few weeks back, GE Healthcare sat down with Paul A. Friedman, M.D., chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Mayo Clinic, in order to better gain understanding of cardiac impact of COVID-19. Friedman shed some light on how EKG testing can be a game-changer when it comes to early diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“Most people who get COVID-19 present with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, but there are a minority that will present with symptoms that may mimic a heart attack,” said Dr. Friedman.
Friedman went on to explain that if a patient portrays symptoms associated with the heart, the next step would be to record the heart’s electrical activity through means of an EKG. The EKG can then determine if the patient may have a blocked artery, is having a heart attack, has a heart rhythm disorder, etc. One important role of the EKG is also to record the QT interval.
The QT interval measures how long it takes for the heart to get electrically ready for the next discharge and contraction. This is especially important for COVID-19 patients for two reasons. First, because some of the drugs that have been used to help COVID-19 patients have shown to prolong the QT interval. Secondly, COVID-19 patients usually have a longer QT interval than those without the disease.
Whatever drugs doctors choose to prescribe their patients is out of our hands, however we can help diagnose and treat patients through means of EKG testing. EKG can play a relevant role in establishing a small group of people at risk for disastrous problems.