As the coronavirus pandemic continues and we’re learning more about the infection, cardiologists are reporting on the evidence of lingering heart damage in patients who have tested positive for Covid-19—that aren’t related to age or the severity of infection.
The Guardian recently reported on two cases. The first was Melissa Vanier, a 52 year-old postal worker from Vancouver, who fell seriously ill with coronavirus in February this year. While the virus left her body in March, she noticed her heart rate appeared to be abnormally high. Cardiologists ran tests, which showed Vanier had ischaemic heart disease.
The second case was Nicola Allan, a 45 year-old teacher from Liverpool. Two months after first being diagnosed with Covid-19, her heart rate started racing without warning and she’d shake uncontrollably. Cardiologists prescribed her with beta blockers, but are still unsure why it is happening.
Both of these stories illustrate a wider trend—that coronavirus can leave patients with lasting heart damage long after the initial, and most widely reported, symptoms of coronavirus have gone.
Peter Liu, the Chief Scientific Officer at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, recalls receiving emails from Wuhan in January and February, and then those in Italy, describing a number of patients in intensive care wards with myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle.
“Because of my long-standing interest in how viral myocarditis can lead to heart failure, they asked me to participate in clinical data analysis to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the heart,” he says. And in March, the findings began to emerge. Of 68 patients who had died in one study, doctors reported a third were a result of a combination or respiratory and heart failure.
We are just beginning to understand the long-term effects of coronavirus, but if you’re concerned about myocarditis in the UK, visit our site for more information.