Did you have a “mild” case of Covid-19? Well, you may want to take the findings of this study to heart. A study recently published in Nature Medicine found US veterans who had survived Covid-19 were more likely to have suffered some type of cardiovascular problem in the ensuing year. That’s even when their initial infections didn’t seem that severe.
For the study, a team from the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System (Yan Xie, PhD, Evan Xu, Benjamin Bowe, MPH) and the Washington University School of Medicine (Ziyad Al-Aly, MD) searched a patient database from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to assemble a study cohort and two control cohorts. The study cohort consisted of 153,760 US veterans who had survived Covid-19 for at least 30 days beyond the initial diagnoses. For reference, 30 days is less than three Scaramuccis, which is clearly not a very long time. Nevertheless, it’s still well beyond the typical infectious period for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The two control groups included one that crossed the same pandemic time period as the study group: 5,637,647 patients who had had no evidence of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The other control group came from a time period that pre-dated the pandemic: 5,859,411 veterans and their 2017 records. The research team then compared the different cardiovascular outcomes that the study group and the two control groups suffered in the year following their initial Covid-19 diagnoses.
Here’s a tweet about the study results from Al-Aly, who is an Assistant Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine:
As you can see, the results of the analyzes could be considered some shots through the heart. And Covid-19 may have been to blame. Overall, those who had recovered from Covid-19 coronavirus infections were 63% more likely to have had some kind of cardiovascular problem in the ensuing year than those in the control groups. That included a 52% greater likelihood of suffering a stroke, a 63% higher likelihood of a heart attack, a 72% higher likelihood of heart failure, and a 145% higher likelihood of heat failure. Those who had had Covid-19 were also more likely to later have various abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation (71% more likely), sinus tachycardia (84%), sinus bradycardia (53%), and ventricular arrhythmias (84%) .
Al-Aly pointed out that increased likelihood of cardiovascular problems were evident across different ages, races, sexes, and cardiovascular risk factors:
Heck even those without any cardiovascular disease prior to Covid-19 coronavirus infections ended up being at higher risk after recovering from the infection.
Al-Aly stressed that even those who weren’t hospitalized for their initial Covid-19 coronavirus infections ended up more likely to have cardiovascular problems down the road:
In the adapted words of Bon Jovi, darling, this could give “it’s just mild Covid-19” a bad name.
This study adds to growing body of evidence that a Covid-19 coronavirus infection may affect your heart and circulation in not only short term but also longer term ways. For example, I’ve covered for Forbes how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown persistent abnormalities in patients’ hearts even a median of 71 days after their initial Covid-19 diagnoses. Another study found evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 in the hearts of those who underwent autopsies. And in an article for Forbes entitled, “Covid-19 Can Cause Heart Damage—Even If You Are Asymptomatic,” Robert Glatter, MD, reported on a study published in JAMA that some of those who didn’t notice any symptoms while infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus still ended up having heart damage or inflammation.
While Celine Dion didn’t sing “My Heart Complications Will Go On,” it is a concern for those who have recovered from their initial Covid-19 coronavirus infections. As Al-Aly tweeted, the pandemic could leave a long-lasting heart-felt legacy even after the pandemic is no longer considered a pandemic:
Plopping an additional burden on the already broken US healthcare system? Gee what could possibly wrong? All of this could be like taking a dumpster fire and adding a large cannister of fuel to it while watching the movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo at the same time.
Assuming that you don’t run a healthcare system, what does all of this mean to you? If you’ve had Covid-19, you may want to listen to your heart, even when the Covid-19 was seemingly just a “mild” case. Any symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, or palpitations that may be cardiovascular-related may be a reason to open your heart to your doctor and get a check-up. Oh, and if you are thinking of exposing yourself “naturally” to the SARS-CoV-2 rather than getting the vaccine, quit playing games with your heart. The risk of heart problems from Covid-19 is substantially higher than from the vaccine.