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Heart disease, a global concern highlighted by the World Health Organisation, claims around 17.9 million lives annually and significantly impacts the severity and outcomes of viral respiratory infections.

The third episode of the vodcast series Know Plan Go: Protect Yourself from Respiratory Infections, launched by Gulf News in collaboration with Pfizer, explores the intricate link between heart health and susceptibility to severe viral respiratory infections.

In this episode, Dr. Salwa Elkholy, a specialist cardiologist with 20 years of expertise in non-invasive and clinical cardiology, provides insights into the diverse spectrum of heart diseases. She covers conditions affecting the heart muscle, valves, coronary arteries, and the heart's electrical system, elucidating the reasons behind complications in various parts of the body, including the brain. Dr. Elkholy emphasises the intricate connections between heart disease and broader health concerns.

Dr. Elkholy explains how viral respiratory infections can directly or indirectly affect the heart, leading to conditions such as myocarditis, pericarditis, or endocarditis. She notes that while the direct effect on the heart is rare, it can occur when the cells of the heart become inflamed, causing myocarditis.

Highlighting the increased risk faced by individuals with pre-existing heart conditions for hospitalization or severe complications from respiratory infections, Dr. Elkholy advises those aware of their heart disease to take specific steps when experiencing symptoms of a viral respiratory infection to safeguard their health and mitigate potential complications.

To watch the other episodes of the vodcast series, Know Plan Go, visit You can also listen to the episodes wherever you get our podcasts.