Covid has been the talk of the town ever since it came into our lives in early 2020. Since then, it has brought a drastic change in how we take care of our health and improve our ways of living. In 2021, many vaccines have been introduced, tested, and applied to the general public for fighting and preventing this pandemic. In addition, it has been recently found that the Covid lung drug is helpful in the treatment of heart failure patients.
Among those vaccines are some drugs that are used to treat patients suffering from Coronavirus. For instance, as the lungs are the most affected part in a covid positive patient, the drug pirfenidone is used to treat breathing problems in patients. Breathing problems include breathlessness, shortness of breath, and similar symptoms.
What is pirfenidone?
Pirfenidone, also known as covid lung drug these days, is the topic of research for health workers as they have experimented with it to treat the COVID-19 virus. It has proven to produce few side effects and significant benefits resultantly.
It has not been tested on animals as the immune systems of both humans and animals respond differently to drugs, so there is no use doing that.
Pirfenidone for Covid
The drug pirfenidone is known to cure patients suffering from mild to severe Covid-19 virus. In addition, its antioxidant, anti-fibrotic, and anti-inflammatory characteristics help treat pulmonary fibrosis that is developed in critical covid patients. Therefore, given the known properties of pirfenidone (anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrotic, antioxidant) and our current knowledge of severe COVID-19 pathophysiology, it is reasonable to recommend pirfenidone for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe SARS-COVID-19.
Heart failure and its symptoms
Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is when the heart cannot pump the blood forward. As a result, the blood moves in the backward direction, building up fluid in the lungs and hence causes breathlessness. This stage causes heart failure.
All this does not happen overnight. Instead, heart failure results from a buildup of specific health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other signs that make the heart too weak to function correctly.
It was found out in a study that the same covid lung drug pirfenidone that was used to cure covid patients can also be used to treat heart failure patients. Talking in terms of symptoms, a typical heart failure patient has the following:
Difficulty in breathing, especially after a bit of activity or while laying down
Orthopnea or nocturnal dyspnea are the names given to types of shortness of breath and its multiple conditions.
Symptoms of heart failure include irregular heartbeats, which can become intolerable sometimes.
Tiredness and fatigue
You get tired even if you haven’t worked that much. If you are a heart patient, daily activities tend to make you tired and exhausted.
Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is yet another symptom of heart failure. You don’t feel like eating anything quite often.
Nausea is a common complaint with even healthy individuals, but it becomes a cause of concern for heart patients.
Loss of focus
Inability to perform your routine or office work can sometimes be problematic.
Swelling up of legs, ankles, feet
Due to fluid retention in the area, your multiple body parts start to swell up and can be painful at times.
If you have observed, most of the symptoms match those of Covid. This is another reason the covid lung drug pirfenidone is used to treat heart failure patients.
Determinant conditions for Heart Failure
Although there are several risk factors of heart failure, the most commonly observed ones are listed below:
Hypertension is a heart condition in which the blood exerts a force on artery walls, meaning that the heart has to work harder to maintain the normal flow.
Ischaemic heart disease
Also known as coronary heart disease, it’s a condition in which the heart cannot get sufficient oxygen and blood as per its typical functional requirements due to narrowed heart arteries.
Irregular heartbeats can make the heart muscles weak and hence cause heart failure.
It occurs due to coronary heart disease. It can be sudden and prove to be fatal.
Elevated levels of blood sugar can cause diabetes. Heart failure usually occurs from type 2 diabetes.
Contrary to hypertension, valvular insufficiency is the insufficient amount of blood supply to the body due to a leaky valve. As a result, the heart has to exert more pressure to presume its regular operation, which makes it weak and hence can cause heart failure.
An increased amount of alcohol use can weaken the heart muscles, which leads to heart failure.
It leads to cardiac dysfunction and, eventually, heart failure.
Obstructive sleep apnea
If your oxygen levels drop while you are asleep, it can cause the heart to supply more blood, increasing your blood pressure and putting stress on your heart.
Due to myocarditis
Heart failure can also occur due to myocarditis, which COVID also causes.
If the patient is overweight, then it may cause the condition to be more severe. In addition, sudden weight loss over a short time may indicate an impending heart failure.
Build-up fluid in the lungs also indicates heart failure and later in the legs, feet, and abdomen.
Angina or Heart Attack
Although pulmonary edema and coronary artery disease are among the leading causes of heart failure, patients with heart failure still face the risk of angina and heart attack. Therefore, you must pay special attention to sudden and strenuous exercise in cold months, like gardening or snow cleaning.
Irregular heartbeats, also known as tachycardia, develop when the heart is not functioning correctly. A defibrillator is implanted to counter this condition.
Heart failure complications include impaired kidney function, which makes the fluid collect in the kidney; resultantly, the role of the kidney is disturbed and can cause the patient to get hospitalized or even die.
How to Prevent it?
Prevention is always better than cure. Listed below are some of the critical preventive measures to avoid this fatal condition altogether:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Physical activity/exercise
- Quit smoking
- Stress management
Prior Heart failure Treatments
There are certain commonly prescribed medications for heart failure patients. Which include;
They are used to control blood pressure and rapid palpitations of the heart. In addition, it helps to regulate heart function if the condition is not worsening.
Use of Diuretics
It makes you urinate more frequently so that the fluid doesn’t get build up in your body and you can breathe easily. But you should consult a doctor before taking these drugs, as they will make your body lose certain minerals. These minerals may be taken as supplements or as prescribed by the doctor.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors relax blood arteries, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce heart strain.
People admitted to the hospital with chronic heart failure are given these drugs by IV. Inotropes aid in the efficient pumping of blood and the maintenance of blood pressure.
This drug strengthens the contractions of your heart muscle. It also regulates the heartbeat. Digoxin helps people with systolic heart failure feel much better. The doctor may prescribe it to someone with a heart rhythm disorder, such as atrial fibrillation.
Using Devices for regulating blood flow
Sometimes surgeries or medications don’t seem to work for a heart failure patient; they are advised to undergo a heart transplant in which the weakened heart is replaced by a healthy heart of a donor.
A mechanical circulatory support device is used to help the patient to pump blood from the left ventricle of the heart to the rest of the body.
An ICD or Cardioverter-defibrillators is an implantable device under the skin of your chest to detect irregular heartbeats for a heart patient and then provide sufficient electric shocks to regulate it. It acts as a pacemaker to detect unusual or dead heartbeats and bring you back to life by inducing relevant shocks.
How does the covid lung drug help in treating heart failure?
Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction was found to be treated with a daily dose of pirfenidone. This dose of pirfenidone was prescribed to the patients after they had undergone cardiovascular magnetic resonance. If the myocardial extracellular volume of such patients came out to be more than or equal to 27%, they were assigned this covid lung drug for around a year. Unfortunately, although the results were positive, the myocardial extracellular volume of these patients decreased. Thus, a tiny fraction of the patients who had received the drug were met with an adverse outcome. This adverse reaction included nausea, rash, and insomnia, which can be countered with regular medications.
The Bottom line
To conclude, the results of covid lung drug were only indicative of a small proportion of individuals. Therefore, some more future trials need to be performed to confirm that the covid lung drug is a proven and tested solution for heart attack failure patients.