Heart Risks Rise in People With Long COVID

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According to new research, having long COVID (lingering symptoms) after a COVID-19 infection more than doubles your risk of developing new symptoms.

Joanna Lee (lead study author) said that COVID-19 goes beyond a simple respiratory condition. She is also a member of the Global Remote Research Scholars Program.

The scholars’ program researchers reviewed 11 studies that involved a total of 5.8 million people in order to study cardiovascular complications resulting from COVID.

There was consistent evidence that those with COVID-19 for a long time were more likely to develop symptoms related to heart disease than those without it. The research team identified symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, and chest pain.

These people were also more likely than others to have high cardiovascular risk or signs of heart disease in diagnostic and medical imaging tests.

Lee stated that doctors should be aware of the possibility of cardiac complications and conduct further investigations if patients complain of these symptoms even after having COVID-19.

Lee stated, “For patients, If you had COVID-19, and you have continued to experience difficulty breathing or other new heart problems, then you should see a doctor to get it checked out.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-fifth of Americans who have had COVID-19 developed lingering symptoms.

The researchers used the term long COVID to mean symptoms that persist for more than four weeks or occur at least two months after the initial COVID-19 infection. Patients with pre-existing heart disease were also included in the study, but their symptoms were not considered cardiovascular complications of long COVID if the COVID-19 infection occurred.

The investigators found 11 studies between 2020-2022 that included cardiovascular data on patients with COVID for long periods of time, plus one control group that did not have COVID-19.

Nearly 450,000 people participated in the study. Long COVID patients had a higher rate of heart complications than those in the control group.

Lee stated that coordination among cardiologists, emergency room staff, and primary care providers could aid in the early detection and mitigation of cardiac complications in long-term COVID patients.

The findings are scheduled for presentation on March 6 in New Orleans at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation. Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.