The coronavirus can cause heart disease in some patients, even those who had relatively mild symptoms of COVID-19, a new study has found.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, examined a group of 100 COVID-19 patients. Some were sick enough to have been hospitalized, and some had a mild enough illness that they were discharged and left to recover at home.
Around 60 percent of those patients had evidence of myocardial damage – inflammation of the heart muscle, which can be mild, or eventually increase the risk of serious cardiac problems like heart failure.
Cardiologist Dr. Gaurav Minocha, working as associate director - cardiology at Max Hospital Vaishali tells that "The study compared COVID-19 patients to a control group who had similar pre-existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but who didn’t have the virus. In that control group, around 40 percent of patients showed signs of myocardial damage, meaning that the increased burden from COVID-19 wasn’t quite as high as it looks."
However, he said, cardiovascular disease among COVID-19 patients is definitely a concern.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus targets a receptor found throughout the body – including in the heart. While the virus might directly cause heart injury in itself, patients who already have cardiovascular conditions could also get worse if they catch the virus, because of increased stress and inflammation in their bodies.
Follow up care for patients with COVID-19 is going to be important, and certainly, the cardiovascular care is going to be a big part of that, says the doctor.