The new coronavirus can leave some patients with signs of heart inflammation and injury months after they get sick with Covid-19, even in cases where their illness wasn’t severe, researchers say.
The findings could help explain the symptoms of recovered Covid-19 patients, some of whom are struggling with such issues as shortness of breath, chest pain and heart palpitations, scientists say.
And in some patients, the heart inflammation and damage could lead to serious problems years from now, including irregular heartbeats and even heart failure, though there hasn’t been enough time to study the long-term implications, according to researchers.
“We basically die with the heart-muscle cells we’re born with, so anything that results in the death of heart muscle has the potential to irreversibly damage the heart’s mechanical ability and the heart’s electrical function,” said Charles Murry, director of the University of Washington’s Center for Cardiovascular Biology, who is studying Covid-19’s impact on the heart.
Heart inflammation can follow cases of the seasonal flu or other respiratory viruses and lead to irregular heartbeats or even heart failure in some cases, doctors and researchers say. The mounting evidence of Covid-19’s toll on the heart stems from studies probing the effect of the coronavirus on heart-muscle cells and autopsying people who died from the disease, as well as looking at the hearts of patients who have recovered.