COVID-19 can cause significant health problems. At one point it was reported that it can even cause lasting heart damage. And it is true. However, now scientists from UCL found that mild Covid-19 infection is very unlikely to cause lasting damage to the heart. This is good to hear because most COVID-19 cases are actually fairly mild.
Scientists analyzed data of 149 healthcare workers – 74 of them previously had mild COVID-19 and 75 did not have this disease. The concern is that this infection causes lasting heart damage, because it’s been detected. And, of course, long-term heart disease is a terrible diagnosis for anyone. Researchers compared healthy participants to those who had a mild case of the disease. They looked into markers that are usually noticeable in people who have heart damage related to COVID-19 – elasticity of aorta, scar tissue on the heart muscle, signs of inflammation, etc. And what they found was actually a bit of good news.
Dr Thomas Treibel, one of the authors of the study, said: “Disentangling the impact Covid-19 has on the heart has been a challenge. But we’re now at the stage of the pandemic where we can really start to get a grip on the longer-term implications Covid-19 has on the health of our heart and blood vessels”.
Researchers didn’t detect any signs of heart damage from mild cases of COVID-19. MRI scans didn’t show any significant differences between the two participant groups. This basically means that mild COVID-19 cases do not cause lasting effects on the heart. Left ventricle of the heart, responsible for pumping blood around the body, remained just as healthy after COVID-19 as it was before. And scientists didn’t detect any abnormal inflammation and scarring in the heart. Finally, the elasticity of the aorta was not different between the two groups. Scientists say that although this study is quite small in its data pool, it is likely that preventive testing of former COVID-19 patients who had mild cases of the disease is not needed.
Scientists did detect some abnormalities in MRI scans. However, that is completely normal. In this regard the two groups were not different at all, because everyone has some of those little abnormalities in the heart and those who had mild cases of COVID-19 were not different.
Understanding lasting symptoms of COVID-19 is very important. Some people have what is now called long-COVID-19 with lingering symptoms which could have serious implications on one’s health later in life. It is important to know that those who only had mild symptoms (which is an absolute majority of COVID-19 cases) are not a great risk of heart disease.