Question: Can a virus cause heart failure?
Answer: When we're trying to understand the totality of reasons why someone has heart failure, heart disease even, we really have to expand our thinking into arenas that we didn't ordinarily consider. Yes, there's risk factors and we can talk about those, but there also are other factors in the environments, specifically infections, especially viral infections. Not every viral infections, so nobody needs to panic because you've had a common cold.
But there are some specific viruses that actually have been identified through research and we know that when people are affected by those viruses and are susceptible to injury from those viruses, heart disease can occur. Now we have to take this a step further though because what we also know is that when the virus damages the heart, that may not be the final issue because with bed rest, with appropriate medical therapy, the heart can improve from that, sometimes fully recover.
So whenever we see someone whom we think has been infected by a viral infection of the heart, we are always watchful and hopeful. Sometimes the heart function can be devastated. And those with dramatic cases, thankfully they only happen a few times a year. But many times, there can be great drama because there's a new onset of heart failure and with time and patience and careful medical therapy typically involving consultants that know this disease process, patients can feel and frankly will do better.
So all is not lost if you've had a viral infection, but there are consequences and it takes thoughtful overview and careful involvement to understand what to do there.