Study finds most recovered COVID-19 patients have heart issues

Though many people focus on the mortality rate of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, health officials have warned that the virus may have long-term health consequences that largely remain unknown. One particular concern has been the infection's potential impact on heart health, something that a new study warns may be an issue even in mild cases of the disease.

Newly published research reports that COVID-19, even in mild cases, may cause inflammation of the cardiovascular muscles that persists for months and may cause long-term heart health issues. A number of recovered COVID-19 patients have been found to experience persisting heart complications following recovery from the disease, raising concerns about the long-term impact of this virus.

The novel coronavirus has been linked to a form of myocarditis and increased odds of death among patients who have pre-existing heart issues. The two new studies build upon this, with one involving cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) to evaluate the hearts of 100 recovered COVID-19 patients. Of those 100 people, 78 were found to have heart health abnormalities.

As well, 60 of those patients were found to have myocardial inflammation not linked to any known pre-existing heart disease issues, though it is possible that these people may have been unaware of problems they had prior to the illness. Despite this, only 33 of these COVID-19 patients had required hospitalization, indicating that health consequences may arise even in mild cases of the condition.

Likewise, the majority of autopsied COVID-19 victims were found to have the virus in their heart tissue, with a minority of them also featuring significant levels of the virus in their heart at the times of their death. Only time will tell whether the virus indeed has a long-term impact on heart health, but all signs point toward some variety of cardiac presence and potential for complications.

Combined with evidence hinting at the development of diabetes in some COVID-19 patients, as well as issues involving loss of smell and more, these latest studies highlight the fact that COVID-19 is more than just a respiratory illness. The new research can be found in JAMA Cardiology.