By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When COVID first struck, it was thought to be primarily a respiratory virus, causing pneumonia and breathing problems, but now we know it also causes heart issues.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explains, the virus that causes COVID-19, technically known as SARS-CoV-2, is a virus unlike any other doctors have come across. It causes respiratory issues, clotting problems, multiple organ damage, long-haul fatigue and some unusual cardiac symptoms, even after a relatively mild case.

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“Tiredness, the pain, fever, but that all subsided, and then I just had a cough for about a week and then otherwise I felt great,” COVID patient Rob Magyar said.

That was back in January. Then, a couple of weeks later as Magyar was getting ready to go back to work…

“They took my blood pressure and they said, ‘This is very, very high. We don’t think you should leave,'” he said.

In addition, a blood test revealed that Magyar had a very high level of a marker for inflammation.

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Doctors are now seeing a number of patients with heart issues that may be linked to COVID-19, including high blood pressure, myocarditis or inflammation in the heart, and heart attacks from blood clots in otherwise healthy people.

Then there’s an unusual problem called dysautonomia.

“The autonomic nervous system just doesn’t work normally, so individuals will stand up and they’ll get very lightheaded. They’ll develop exercise intolerance,” said Dr. Alex Reyentovich, with NYU Langone Health.

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There is a suggestion that the cardiac issues may be more common in men, although that hasn’t been firmly established. Either way, any heart symptom should be investigated right away.

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Reyentovich says treatment for most of these problems is supportive care until the body heals itself. He’s also adamant that the even better treatment is avoidance. In other words, vaccination, so you don’t get COVID in the first place.

Dr. Max Gomez