Any virus can cause heart inflammation, says minister

Izah Azahari

Viruses in nature can affect the heart as well, causing an inflammation to the muscles of the heart or its exterior and the like. This is not only specific to the COVID-19 as any virus has the ability to do this, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said at yesterday’s press conference in reference to a question on international findings on the effects of COVID-19 on the heart.

The minister also explained the conditions of the two critical patients at the National Isolation Centre (NIC), stating that they both have underlying diseases and require the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine as the ventilators are not sufficient enough to provide oxygen into their bodies.

“They need additional support and that is the purpose of the ECMO,” said the minister. “Interestingly, if our bodies are not functioning well – for example, if our lungs are damaged and we give it too much oxygen, it will further damage the lungs.”

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham explained that when this happens, a reduction on ventilators or oxygen to the lowest possible amount will be made for their lungs to rest and have a chance for recovery, and the lower the oxygen it can tolerate, the better it will be, as the ECMO machine takes over the whole oxygenation process.

“This will take weeks, unfortunately,” he said.