COVID-19 infections leave an impact on the heart, raising concerns about lasting damage

To examine the effects of COVID-19 on the heart, researchers in Germany analyzed the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 100 people who contracted COVID-19 in the spring and subsequently recovered.

To examine the effects of COVID-19 on the heart, researchers in Germany analyzed the cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 100 people who contracted COVID-19 in the spring and subsequently recovered. Compared with people who were not infected with the virus, the COVID-19 patients were more likely to have cardiac irregularities: 78 patients showed structural changes to their hearts, 76 had a biomarker indicating cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack, and 60 had signs of inflammation. The patients were age 49 years on average, and two-thirds had recovered at home. Valentina Puntmann, a cardiologist at University Hospital Frankfurt who led the MRI study, says: "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." In a separate study, researchers in Germany analyzed autopsy results from 39 people who died early in the pandemic. Researchers found high levels of the coronavirus in the hearts of 24 patients. Dirk Westermann, a cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Centre in Hamburg, says: "We see signs of viral replication in those that are heavily infected. 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." Both studies are published in JAMA Cardiology.