A guest blog post from my cousin, Joe Cuiccio, who's spent a life time devoted to health and fitness.
Now that 2020 is soon coming to an end, I wanted to take the time and share some key events which I’ve experienced during this pretty awful year. I contracted COVID-19 in mid July. My symptoms were pretty mild and I was able to return to work after my 14 day quarantine. Other than feeling pretty tired, I was more or less able to function normally. About two weeks after that, though still tired, I decided to get my first workout in after 4 weeks of inactivity. I went easy not knowing what to expect but it felt pretty good and I was relieved. For the next two weeks, I progressed, got stronger and regained some endurance. I was feeling a lot better. That is until one evening in late August.
Soon after a late night workout, I didn’t feel right. After a bite to eat and a shower, I'd gotten into bed and noticed my heart was racing and felt unwell. I figured I’d try to get to sleep and hopefully feel better in the morning. No such luck. My heart was still racing and I felt even worse - chest and back pain, tightness, palpitations, nausea and a bit light headed. Becoming concerned, I started to wonder could I be on the verge of a heart attack? It persisted through the morning and I decided to go to emergency care. My EKG was normal but my pulse was still rapid and my blood pressure was 160/89! I was told to see my doctor ASAP.
I get in to see my regular doc a few days later and given my symptoms and that fact that I’ve had COVID-19, he recommends I wear a 48hr Holter monitor. It reveals a series of PAC’s and PVC’s (premature heartbeats) and some arrhythmia. These results get a me a referral to a cardiologist. Long story short, after 3 long months of tests, very anxious waiting, feeling like shit, abstaining from exertion, caffeine & alcohol, I finally get my diagnosis: a cardiac MRI revealed scar tissue on my heart which is a remnant of damage caused by the coronavirus. The good news is it’s minor enough to not require any treatment at this time and is not likely to effect me in any major way. I should feel better as time goes on. I will follow up in 6 months.
I’m sharing this because every single day, I encounter people who either think the coronavirus is a hoax, blown out of proportion, a government plot, no worse than the flu, only affects the elderly, has a 99% recovery rate and similar kinds of ignorant nonsense. As you could imagine, I’ve done a lot of research regarding COVID-19 related heart damage and it’s really scary stuff. I am beyond grateful that I was lucky enough to have dodged a serious bullet. But there are people much younger and healthier than myself who have sustained a far worse degree of damage than I. What research has found so far is that the immune system goes into overdrive to fight the virus and continues fighting long after the virus is gone. This sustained immune response can cause damage not just to the heart but other organs including the brain and nervous system. It can cause erratic spikes in blood pressure greatly increasing the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. And even though not life threatening, many are experiencing chronic fatigue months after recovery preventing them from working, performing simple daily activities and greatly affecting their quality of life. The gamut of ill effects is very wide.
So, when I hear someone quote survival rates without taking into account the huge gray area of complications that can arise in recovered people, it makes me sad, angry and frustrated beyond measure. I hope that in sharing this, it may shed some light and get some of the more close-minded individuals out there to try a little harder to think outside of the box and band together to defeat this. ❤️