COVID has exposed “unexpected vulnerabilities” for heart health at all stages of the disease, according to Scots cardiologists.

A new  study is underway looking at the long-term impact of the virus on blood pressure, which is said to be a major concern given the scale of cases in younger adults.

Research has shown that people with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or chronic lung conditions, have a higher risk of developing severe illness.

The virus that causes Covid enters the body’s cells through a receptor called ACE2 which is found in the lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, and bowel and helps maintain blood pressure.

The virus can also cause damage to the walls of the blood vessels which makes the risk of blood clots higher and this has been seen more often in people with high blood pressure. 

READ MORE: Covid has created 'perfect storm' for increased heart deaths 

A study led by the University of Glasgow and funded by Heart Research UK, will examine the health records of people from the West of Scotland who attended hospital or had a positive test for Covid -19 between April 2020 and April 2021

They will undergo blood pressure monitoring, and heart and blood vessel health checks.

These tests will be repeated after 12 and 18 months to see if there have been any changes and compared with patients with normal blood pressure.

Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, Professor of Cardiovascular Genomics and Therapeutics, who is leading the study, said: “The current Covid-19 pandemic  has exposed unexpected cardiovascular vulnerabilities at all stages of the disease

“The burden of hypertension as a consequence is unknown, but given the scale of the infection especially among the young this will be a major concern for the future.” 

Other research, published yesterday, has shown that increased risk of blood clots in those recovering from Covid may be due to a ‘lingering and overactive immune response’.

READ MORE: Increased risk of developing blood clots after Covid due to 'lingering immune response' 

Researchers collected and analysed blood samples from 30 patients, a month after they were discharged from hospital and all had signs of blood vessel damage.

Patients continued to produce high levels of cytokines – proteins produced by immune cells that activate the immune response against pathogens – even in the absence of the virus.

Researchers from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore hypothesise that these persistently activated immune responses may attack the blood vessels of recovered Covid patients, causing even more damage and increasing the risk of blood clot formation further.

READ MORE: New coronavirus cases fall to their lowest level since September 

Last week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the UK Government’s vaccine advisory body, issued updated guidance advising that under-30s should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, if available.

It followed a review by the MHRA, which found that by the end of March, 79 people in the UK had suffered rare blood clots after vaccination - 19 of whom had died.

The organisation said this was not proof the jab had caused the clots, while the JCVI said the new guidance was being issued on a "precautionary basis".