Heart Damage Seen in Many Hospitalized With COVID

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, February 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Heart damage has been seen in more than half of a group of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 after discharge, according to a new British study.

The study included 148 patients treated for severe COVID-19 at six hospitals in London. The patients all had high levels of a protein called troponin, which is released into the blood when the heart muscle is damaged.

Many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have elevated troponin levels when they are critically ill and the body develops an exaggerated immune response to the infection, the researchers noted.

MRI scans of patients’ hearts were performed at least one month after discharge. Scans showed 54% had damage to the heart.

The damage included inflammation of the heart muscle, scarring or death of heart tissue, and restriction of blood supply to the heart. Some patients had combinations of all three types of damage, the results showed.

The report was published on February 18 in the European Journal of the Heart.

“High levels of troponin are associated with worse outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Patients with severe COVID-19 often have pre-existing heart health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity,” said Marianna Fontana, co-author of the study. She is Professor of Cardiology at University College London.

“In a severe infection with COVID-19, however, the heart can also be directly affected. It is difficult to determine how the heart can be damaged, but MRI scans of the heart can identify different types of injury, which can help us. to make diagnoses more precise, and to target treatments more effectively, ”Fontana said in a press release.

About a third of the patients had been on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

Some of the heart damage in patients may have been present before they contracted COVID-19. But MRI scans have shown some to be new and likely caused by COVID-19, according to Fontana.

“It is important to note that the pattern of heart damage was variable, suggesting that the heart is at risk for different types of injury. Although we only detected a small amount of ongoing injuries, we did see injuries to the heart that were present even when the heart’s pumping function was not impaired and might not have been picked up by d ‘other techniques,’ Fontana said.


In more serious cases, she added, fears exist that this injury could increase the risk of heart failure in the future, but further investigation is needed.

Fontana said the study results offer two opportunities. The first is to find ways to prevent injuries in the first place. “According to some of the patterns we have observed, blood clotting may play a role, for which we have potential treatments,” she noted.

“Second, detecting the consequences of injury during recovery can identify subjects who would benefit from specific drug treatments to protect heart function over time,” Fontana said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, press release, February 18, 2021

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