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Cardiologists worried: COVID-19 seriously affects the human heart

New evidence suggests that SARS associated with COVID-19 can seriously affect heart function. We are talking about "potential long-term injury" in a patient who has had a coronavirus. The edition writes about it USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

German scientists conducted two studies, the results of which were published on July 28 in the journal JAMA Cardiology. They discovered cardiac abnormalities in COVID-19 patients months after they recovered from SARS-CoV-2 disease.

The first study included 100 patients from the University Hospital Registry of Frankfurt who were relatively healthy people in their 40s and 50s. About a third of the patients required hospitalization, the rest recovered at home.

Researchers looked at a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging scan taken nearly two and a half months after these people were diagnosed and compared it to images of those who had never been infected with COVID-19. So the researchers found abnormalities in the work of the heart in 78 patients, 60 of whom showed signs of inflammation of the heart muscle. “When this caught our attention, we were amazed,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and editor of JAMA Cardiology magazine.

This study turned out to be very important, as most of the patients did not have any symptoms of the virus. With the help of MRI, scientists were able to identify specific abnormalities in patients that would not have been shown by an echocardiogram. The latter is more widely used in standard clinical settings.

Dr. Thomas Maddox, chair of the Science and Quality Committee of the American College of Cardiology, says that inflammation of the heart can weaken the heart muscle and, in rare cases, lead to abnormal heartbeats.

Yancey said inflammation is the first prerequisite for heart failure and can leave serious damage over a longer period of time that could "set a scenario" for other forms of heart disease. “We are not saying that COVID-19 causes heart failure ... but it provides early evidence that heart damage is possible,” Yancy explained.

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Maddox says the study is contributing to the understanding that heart damage in COVID-19 patients may be a "side effect" of a general inflammatory response to the virus, rather than a direct viral invasion of the heart.

Although inflammation is indicative of COVID-19, Dr. Paul Cremer, cardiovascular imaging specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, says performing imaging before patients get sick could strengthen the study's argument that the disease was capable cause these cardiac abnormalities. “Seeing inflammation in the heart muscle ... it's hard to think about other causes besides COVID-19. But I am convinced that this should be confirmed in other studies, ”the cardiologist is convinced.

The results of the study come after the Cleveland Clinic published on July 9 in the medical journal JAMA Network Open a number of cases of "broken heart syndrome", or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, doubled during the pandemic.

Stress cardiomyopathy occurs in response to physical or emotional distress and causes dysfunction or failure of the heart muscle. Experts say more research is needed to understand the principle of long-term effects on the heart. “We need to understand the longer-term clinical symptoms and outcomes that can occur in patients who have survived and recovered,” Maddox said. "It will take some time to understand how more and more people are getting sick and recovering."

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