LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON THE HEART
By now, most of us understand that the severity of illness associated with COVID-19 and how long symptoms might last can vary greatly from one person to the next. It has also become clear that severe COVID-19 symptoms or long COVID-19 do not discriminate. Young and old healthy people and those with pre-existing medical conditions can experience serious illness or suffer from long-lasting symptoms, even after a mild case of COVID-19.
It has been established that COVID-19 can cause organ damage, primarily affecting the lungs, liver, kidneys, brain and heart. Blood-clotting issues and damage to blood vessels has also been identified, with blood clots affecting the blood vessels within major organs including the heart as well as the legs.
What has been less clear is the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart. Much of the research has involved small studies that yielded varying results. However, a recent study published in Nature Medicine this past February has shed more light on the long-term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19.
The study from researchers at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System and Washington University (involving more than 150,000 people with COVID-19, more than 5.6 million contemporary controls and more than 5.8 million historical controls) found that people with COVID-19 were at a higher risk of developing heart problems over one year following infection than those who have not been exposed to COVID-19.
The increased risk was seen in people of all ages, sexes and races, as well as cardiovascular risk factors. Regardless of your health status, age or how well you actually tolerated COVID-19, you have an elevated risk of heart disease for a long period after you recover. What that means beyond the one-year mark is still unknown. Research into the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the heart (as well as other organs and systems within the body) is still ongoing.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Problems After COVID-19?
The symptoms of potential cardiovascular issues after COVID-19 include shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea and swelling of the legs. Although these symptoms may have other causes, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation if you are experiencing any of them. This is also good advice for people who have not had COVID-19.
When To See A Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms or suffering from any other symptoms that are concerning you, call your doctor, even if you have previously felt fine after recovering from COVID-19.
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.