Kabra Champions Heart Disease Awareness for Women During Pandemic

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Rajesh Kabra, MD, FHRS, a professor in the Division of Cardiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has a simple piece of advice for  women who may have or be at risk for heart disease during the pandemic: Don’t be deterred from seeking necessary medical attention for heart- related symptoms.

Dr. Rajesh Kabra

February is National Heart Month and today is the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Day, a national campaign to bring awareness to heart disease, the Number 1 cause of death of women in the United States. About one in 16 women age 20 and older have coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While data show that fewer women are dying from the coronavirus than men, the virus may have consequences for heart and kidney function in both sexes.

“The acute inflammation caused by COVID-19 can worsen cardiac function,” Dr. Kabra said. “Because of this, there are theoretical risks that the viral infection could cause rupture of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, which could lead to heart  attack or arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation. Therefore, individuals who experience severe chest discomfort during symptoms of coronavirus should seek health care advice immediately.”

Dr. Kabra said the American Heart Association’s My Life Check | Life’s Simple 7 tips are helpful for preventing heart disease. He believes the best preventive measure that anyone can take during the pandemic is to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is made available. “It is the safest thing, along with following CDC guidelines,” he said.

In recognition of National Go Red for Women Day, UTHSC encouraged members of the campus community to display their support by taking a selfie wearing red. The photos are displayed at uthsc.edu.