Up to 300,000 people in the UK are facing heart-related illnesses due to post-pandemic stress disorder (PPSD), two London physicians have warned.
This could result in a 4.5 per cent rise in cardiovascular cases nationally because of the effects of PPSD, with those aged between 30 to 45 most at-risk, they claim.
Mark Rayner, a former senior NHS psychological therapist and founder of EASE Wellbeing CIC, said that as many as three million people in Britain are already suffering from PPSD, thanks to stress and anxiety caused by the effects of Covid-19.
He fears this could result in a dramatic rise in physical health issues, such as coronary heart failure, if cases are not detected or treated early.
Mr Rayner said: “PPSD is a very real problem on a massive scale. As well as the condition itself with all its immediate problems, one of the biggest collateral issues is the affect it can have on heart health.
“It is widely recognised that reducing stress and mental health problems is crucial to the prevention and recovery of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
“We are talking about as many as 300,000 new patients with heart issues.”
Mr Rayner warned that without at least doubling the current funding, the NHS will not be able to tackle the “trauma timebomb”, which could have potentially fatal consequences for those suffering with long-term PPSD.
He said: “I’ve seen a big increase in thrombotic-related vascular conditions in my practice. Far younger patients are being admitted and requiring surgical and medical intervention than prior to the pandemic.
“I believe many of these cases are a direct result of the increased stress and anxiety levels caused from the effects of PPSD.
“We also have evidence that some patients have died at home from conditions such as pulmonary embolism and myocardial infarction. I believe this is related to many people self-isolating at home with no contact with the outside world and dying without getting the help they needed.”
PPSD is a mental health condition induced by the pandemic. While it is not yet officially recognised, many experts believe it should be.
Mr Rayner added: “Everyone has heard of PTSD but we really urgently need to get our heads around PPSD.
“The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns it’s brought have had a massive effect on the mental health of the whole nation.”
Research suggests that patients with symptoms of depression are at 64 per cent greater risk of developing coronary artery disease and 59 per cent more likely to have a future adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or cardiac death.
Heart and circulatory diseases account for a quarter of all deaths in the UK - equating to more than 160,000 deaths each year.
Figures show there are around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK.