Two studies from Germany found that patients that recover from the coronavirus may have lingering heart issues. Even for patients that are not hospitalized, the effects of the virus can remain.

In one study, out of 100 patients that received heart imaging after recovering from the coronavirus. 60 had signs of inflammation and 78 patients showed structural heart damage. The average age of the patients in the study was 49. Valentina Puntmann, who led the MRI study, said the patients studied were young and relatively healthy.

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“The fact that 78% of ‘recovered’ [patients] had evidence of ongoing heart involvement means that the heart is involved in a majority of patients, even if Covid-19 illness does not scream out with the classical heart symptoms, such as anginal chest pain,” Puntmann, a cardiologist at University Hospital Frankfurt, told STAT. “In my view, the relatively clear onset of Covid-19 illness provides an opportunity to take proactive action and to look for heart involvement early.”

The other study analyzed autopsy results and found high levels of the virus in 24 of 39 patients. “We see signs of viral replication in those that are heavily infected,” Dirk Westermann, a cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Centre in Hamburg, said in an interview. “We don’t know the long-term consequences of the changes in gene expression yet. I know from other diseases that it’s obviously not good to have that increased level of inflammation.”

The most common heart affect from patients that recovered from COVID-19 was myocardial inflammation or abnormal inflammation of the heart muscle. The long-term consequences of the changes to the heart are unclear and doctors are pushing to have more studies and information available as the pandemic continues.”These findings indicate the need for ongoing investigation of the long-term cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

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