Mysterious heart damage, not just lung troubles, befalling COVID-19 patients

With an ever-growing body of data, it is becoming clear that clinicians treating COVID-19 must be concerned not only with a patient's respiratory system but the heart as well.

With an ever-growing body of data, it is becoming clear that clinicians treating COVID-19 must be concerned not only with a patient's respiratory system but the heart as well. There is evidence that the virus can affect the heart muscle, with as many as 1 in 5 patients suffering cardiac damage that led to heart failure and/or death—even in the absence of respiratory distress. Patients with preexisting cardiac conditions appear to be more likely to sustain heart damage after COVID-19 illness, but others with no previous heart disease are susceptible as well. Having coronavirus-related heart damage is also linked to a significantly greater risk of mortality, especially among those with no history of cardiac problems. What doctors still do not understand is whether the virus actually causes heart trouble, or whether these problems develop as part of the body's response to the infection. This and other important unknowns emphasize the importance of close surveillance of cardiac markers in the COVID-19 population. What they observe is likely to affect how doctors and hospitals manage patients, in terms of preventive guidance in individuals with preexisting heart conditions, need for additional equipment, and new cardiac care plans for coronavirus survivors.