After Mild Cases of COVID, Heart Damage Persists

Study finds some recovered patients show heart damage months later
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2020 3:14 PM CDT
Totally Recovered From COVID? The Heart Says Different
People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus walk across a street in Osaka, Japan, Wednesday, July 29, 2020.   (Kyodo News via AP)

A study of 100 recovered COVID patients in Germany has a sobering upshot: months after having the virus, their hearts showed lingering damage from the virus. MRIs of their hearts found 78% exhibited visual signs that the virus had impacted the organ; 60% showed evidence of inflammation. This though none of the patients believed anything to be wrong with their hearts, per STAT. NBC News also notes that none of the 100 had pre-existing conditions that would account for the heart damage, and 67% of patients had mild cases of coronavirus and weren't hospitalized during their illness. "Our findings may provide an indication of [a] potentially considerable burden of inflammatory disease in large and growing parts of the population," the study authors wrote.

What's unknown is what happens in the long term, but in an editorial accompanying the JAMA study, Dr. Clyde Yancy and Dr. Gregg Fonarow write that "once the heart muscle has been injured, there is the potential for progressive injury. ... We see the plot thickening and we are inclined to raise a new and very evident concern that cardiomyopathy and heart failure related to COVID-19 may potentially evolve as the natural history of this infection becomes clearer." They say they aren't out to "generate additional anxiety" but hope to spur more analysis of the impact of COVID on the heart. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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