Covid-19 may have a prolonged impact on heart: Studies
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may have a long-term impact on the health of people who have recovered from the illness and may have caused cardiac infection in those who succumbed to the infection, two studies have shown.
The two separate studies, both in Germany, were published in the journal JAMA Cardiology on Monday.
One of the studies found that among 100 people, who recently recovered from Covid-19, 78% showed some kind of cardiac involvement in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and 60% had ongoing inflammation in the heart.
The study included patients aged between 45 to 53 from the University Hospital Frankfurt Covid-19 Registry in Germany. They were recruited for the study between April and June.
Most of the patients or 67 recovered at home, with the severity of their illness ranging from some being asymptomatic to having moderate symptoms.
The researchers used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, blood tests and biopsy of heart tissue, which were then compared with a group of 50 healthy volunteers and 57 others with some underlying health conditions or risk factors.
The MRI data showed people infected with Sars-Cov-2, which causes the coronavirus disease, had some kind of heart involvement regardless of any preexisting conditions, the severity or course of their infection, the time from their original diagnosis or the presence of any specific heart-related symptoms.
The most common heart-related abnormality in the Covid-19 patients was myocardial or abnormal inflammation of the heart muscle, which can weaken it.
Researchers said their study has limitations and that the findings are not validated for the use in those younger than 18.
“These findings indicate the need for the ongoing investigation of the long-term cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19,” they said.
In the other study, an analysis of autopsies of Covid-19 patients found the virus could be identified in their heart tissue.
The study included data from 39 autopsy cases from Germany between April 8 and April 18. The patients, aged 78 to 89, had tested positive for Covid-19 and the researchers analysed heart tissue from their autopsies.
They found that 16 of these patients had Sars-Cov-2 in their heart tissue but did not show signs of unusual sudden inflammation in the heart or myocarditis. The researchers said that it was not clear what this meant.
The sample of autopsy cases was small and the “elderly age of the patients might have influenced the results,” the researchers wrote. More research is needed whether similar findings would emerge among a younger group of patients.
Dr Clyde Yancy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Dr Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles, co-authored an editorial that accompanied the two studies.
“…we see the plot thickening and we are inclined to raise a new and very evident concern that cardiomyopathy and heart failure related to COVID-19 may potentially evolve as the natural history of this infection becomes clearer,” they wrote.
“We wish not to generate additional anxiety but rather to incite other investigators to carefully examine existing and prospectively collect new data in other populations to confirm or refute these findings,” they added.