New Evidence Links Zika Virus With Heart Problems in Adults

HealthDay News — Zika may have detrimental effects on the heart in some patients infected with the virus, according to research being presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, to be held from March 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C.

The new study identified 9 Venezuelan patients who were treated at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, one of the epicenters of the Zika virus outbreak. Only one had any previous heart-related issue, and that was well-controlled high blood pressure.

All 9 patients tested positive for Zika infection. The team noted heart-related symptoms such as heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath alongside more common Zika symptoms, including rash, fever, and conjunctivitis. Eight of the 9 patients developed arrhythmias, and two-thirds had evidence of heart failure.

Lead researcher Karina Gonzalez Carta, MD, a cardiologist and research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told HealthDay that doctors should consider electrocardiograms for all Zika-infected patients, and follow-up testing if an irregular heartbeat is detected. “While we anticipated we would see cardiovascular effects from Zika, we were surprised at the severity of the findings,” she said.

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Researchers Sound Alarm Over Zika’s Potentially Harmful Heart Effects [news release]. Washington DC: American College of Cardiology. Published March 9, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2017