British scientists found that more than half of patients who were hospitalized with severe Covid-19 and had elevated levels of a protein called troponin had some form of heart damage after discharge.
Troponin is released into the blood when the heart muscle is damaged, and it is believed that up to 40% of Covid-19 patients have elevated levels of this protein.
Researchers said the findings published in the European Heart Journal raise hope that careful monitoring and targeted treatment can prevent this injury.
Marianna Fontana, a professor of cardiology at the University College London, who led the study, said:
“Patients with severe Covid-19 infections often have heart-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
“But during a severe Covid-19 infection, the heart can also be directly affected.
“It is difficult to determine how the heart is damaged, but MRI scans of the heart can identify different damage patterns, making more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment. I can do it.”
The study, which enrolled 148 patients from six acute care hospitals in London, is considered to be the largest patient to date investigating the recovery of Covid-19 patients with elevated troponin levels.
Patients with abnormal troponin levels were provided with a cardiac scan after discharge and were compared to patients from the control group of patients who did not have Covid-19, and patients from 40 healthy volunteers. ..
The team found evidence of heart damage in patients with high troponin levels. Fifty-four percent of patients had scarring or myocardial damage.
Researchers said these injuries did not stop the heart’s pumps normally, but there were concerns that the injury could increase the risk of heart failure in the future.
Professor Fontana said: “The recovering Covid-19 patients were very ill. All required hospitalization, all showed elevated troponin, and one in three used a ventilator in the intensive care unit.
“We found evidence of a high rate of myocardial damage seen on scans a month or two after discharge.
“Some of this may have been existing, but MRI scans show that some are new and probably caused by Covid-19.
“Importantly, the patterns of damage to the heart vary, suggesting that the heart is at risk for different types of damage.”
The team acknowledges that the findings are limited, as participants included only those who survived a coronavirus infection that required hospitalization.
Professor Fontana said: “The convalescent patients in this study have severe Covid-19 infection, and our results show what happens to those who are not hospitalized with Covid or who are hospitalized but have no elevated troponin. I haven’t said anything about it. “
Dr. Sonya Bab Narayan, Deputy Medical Director and Cardiologist Consultant at the British Heart Foundation, commented on the study: “These findings are for people with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infections. That’s not the case. “
She added: “Some people in this study may have had heart damage that they didn’t know before they were infected with the virus.
“People who suffered heart damage that may have been caused by the virus often suffered subtle injuries and the heart pump did not stop properly.
“Learn how to prevent and treat the damage that Covid-19 causes to the heart requires further research to investigate the long-term effects of severe illness.”
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