Heart damage affects Covid-19 survivors for up to a year later, study finds

Bloomberg – Heart damage caused by Covid-19 extends well beyond the initial stages of the disease, according to a study that found that even people who were never sick enough to need hospitalization are at risk of developing heart failure and deadly blood clots a year later.

Heart disease and stroke are already the leading causes of death worldwide. The increased likelihood of lethal heart complications in Covid-19 survivors, numbering in the hundreds of millions worldwide, will add to their devastation, according to the study, which is being considered for publication by the journal. Nature.

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The aftermath of Covid-19 are substantial”Said Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the center for clinical epidemiology at the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Missouri, who led the research. “Governments and health systems must wake up to the reality that Covid-19 will cast a large shadow in the form of a long Covid-19 and it has devastating consequences. I am concerned that we are not taking this seriously enough. “

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The chances of a heart attack, stroke, or other major cardiovascular event in the first 12 months of recovery from Covid-19 increase with the severity of the initial illness, the researchers found.. They compared the risks of heart complications in 151.195 veterans who survived Covid-19 with the risk in more than 3.6 million of their peers who did not contract the pandemic disease.

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The data was collected from the largest integrated health care system in the US. Most of its users are white and male, which may limit the generalizability of the study findings to other groups, the authors said.

They found that Non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients had a 39% increased risk of developing heart failure and a 2.2 times increased risk of a life-threatening blood clot, known as a pulmonary embolism, in the following year, compared to someone who did not develop the disease. That equates to 5.8 additional cases of heart failure and 2.8 cases of pulmonary embolism for every 1,000 Covid-19 patients who were never hospitalized.

Being hospitalized for Covid-19 is associated with a 5.8 times higher risk of cardiac arrest and an almost 14 times higher chance of myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle, the study found. Covid-19 patients who needed intensive care are at significantly higher risk and nearly one in seven suffers a major adverse cardiac event that they otherwise would not have had in a year.

Listed below are the increased risks of cardiovascular complications for 12-month Covid-19 survivors compared to people undiagnosed with the pandemic disease:

Not hospitalized Hospitalized Necessary intensive care
Heart attack insignificant 482% 2,774%
Heart attack 24% 177% 310%
Heart failure 39% 270% 522%
Pulmonary embolism 119% 855% 2,426%
Myocarditis 277% 1.264% 3.940%

Researchers are still trying to figure out the causes of heart damage in Covid-19 patients.. Possible mechanisms include prolonged damage by direct viral invasion of heart muscle cells and cells lining blood vessels, blood clots, and aberrant and persistent inflammation, the authors said.

Findings from previous natural disasters and pandemics suggest that the indirect effects of Covid-19, including social isolation, financial distress, changes in eating habits and physical activity, as well as trauma and pain, can also influence cardiovascular disease risksthey said.

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