Heart Trouble From COVID Less Common Than Thought

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) is less common in patients with COVID-19 than previously thought, according to a new study.

Previously reported rates of myocarditis in COVID-19 patients ranged from 14% in recovered athletes to 60% in recovered middle-aged and older patients.

“While it is clear that COVID-19 is impacting the heart and blood vessels, to date it has been difficult to know how reproducible the changes are due to the relatively small size of the sample from most autopsy series, ”said study author Dr. Richard Vander. Heide. He is professor of medicine at the Health Sciences Center at Louisiana State University (LSU) in New Orleans.

To get a clearer picture, investigators analyzed the autopsies of 277 people who died from COVID-19 in nine countries.

The rate of myocarditis in these patients was between 1.4% and 7.2%, according to the researchers.

The results suggest that myocarditis caused by COVID-19 may be relatively rare, according to Vander Heide and co-author Dr. Marc Halushka. He is professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“What we have learned is that myocarditis is not as common in COVID-19 as previously thought. This finding should be useful for our fellow clinicians to reconsider how to interpret blood tests and radiology studies cardiac, ”said Halushka.

Vander Heide said the large number of cases studied gave researchers a better idea of ​​what health changes to expect.

“Even a low myocarditis rate of 1.4% would predict hundreds of thousands of myocarditis cases worldwide in severe COVID-19 due to the huge number of infected individuals. Low rates of myocarditis do not indicate that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are not having cardiovascular problems, but rather these complications are likely due to other stressors such as endothelial cell activation. , cytokine storms or electrolyte imbalances, ”Vander Heide said in a press release from LSU.

Researchers have created a checklist that pathologists can use during autopsies of COVID-19 patients to ensure consistency in investigating and reporting results.

The report was published online recently in the journal Cardiovascular pathology.

“This study demonstrates the importance of the autopsy in helping us determine what is going on in the hearts of people who have died from COVID-19,” added Halushka.

More information

To learn more about myocarditis, see the United States National Library of Medicine.

SOURCE: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, press release, October 30, 2020

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