New medical reports are showing that Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is having lasting impact on the heart of some patients. The report confirms the fears of cardiologists who have been concerned about potential long-term heart injury from the coronavirus.
Two German studies, published this week in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Cardiology, indicated heart “abnormalities” in Covid-19 patients months after they had recovered from the initial symptoms of the disease.
In the initial study 100 patients from the University of Hospital Frankfurt Covid Registry – all relatively healthy adults in their 40s and 50s – 1/3 of the patients required hospitalisation during their bout with the virus. The others recovered at home.
“Researchers examined cardiac magnetic resonance imaging taken nearly two and a half months after they were diagnosed and compared them with images from people who never had Covid-19. The study found heart abnormalities in 78 patients, with 60 of those patients showing signs of inflammation in the heart muscle from the virus.”
Dr. Clyde Yancy, the chief cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an editor at JAMA Cardiology, says the team were “struck” with the findings.
“Inflammation is the first prerequisite for heart failure and, over a longer period of time, could leave important residual damage that could set up the scenario for other forms of heart disease.”
He noted that the findings would have been virtually impossible to pinpoint without this study.
“The majority of patients didn’t exhibit any symptoms and these specific abnormalities detected by the MRI wouldn’t have been seen on an echocardiogram… more commonly used in the standard clinical setting.”
The cardiologists suggest the prevalence of inflammation is an important link to Covid-19 as the disease has a clinical reputation for a high inflammatory response.
“We’re not saying that Covid-19 causes heart failure But it presents early evidence that there’s potentially injury to the heart.”
Dr. Paul Cremer, a cardiovascular imaging specialist at the Cleveland Clinic says that, although the inflammation is indicative of Covid-19, “…having imaging before patients were sick could have strengthened the study’s argument that the disease could have caused these heart abnormalities”.
“Seeing inflammation in the heart muscle. It’s hard to think of other causes because of Covid-19, but I think it needs to be validated in other studies.”
The findings come after a Cleveland Clinic study published July 9 in the medical journal JAMA Network Open spotlighted a number of cases of “broken heart syndrome,” or stress cardiomyopathy, doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
SOURCES: USA Today | JAMA Network
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