FRIDAY 19 February 2021 (HealthDay News) – More than half of a group of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were found to have heart damage, according to a new British study.
148 patients undergoing severe COVID-19 treatment in six hospitals in London were included in the study. All of the patients had an increased level of a protein called troponin, which is released into the blood when the heart muscle is injured.
Researchers noted that when most hospitalized COVID-19 patients become critically ill, troponin levels rise and the body produces an exaggerated immune response to infection.
MRI scans of the patients’ hearts were performed at least one month after discharge. The scans showed that 54% had heart damage.
The damage included inflammation of the heart muscle, scarring or death to heart tissue, and restricted blood flow to the heart. The findings showed that some patients had a combination of three types of damage.
The report is on February 18 European Heart Journal.
“Raised troponin levels are associated with worse outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Patients with severe COVID-19 often have pre-existing heart-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity,” said Marianna Fontana, one of the study’s authors. He is professor of cardiology at University College London.
“But during severe COVID-19 infection, the heart can also be directly affected. It is difficult to choose how the heart might be damaged, but MRI scans of the heart can identify different injury patterns, which can enable us to make more accurate diagnoses and to target treatments more effectively,” said Fontana.
Approximately one third of the patients were using a ventilator in the intensive care unit.
Some of the heart damage in patients may be present before they catch COVID-19. But MRI scans showed that some are new and possibly the cause of COVID-19, according to Fontana.
“More importantly, the pattern of damage to the heart was varied, suggesting that the heart is at risk of different types of injury. Although we only found a small amount of ongoing injury, we saw heart damage that was present even when he suffered a heart attack. Fontana’s pumping function was not impaired and with other techniques. it may not have been detected, ”he said.
In the most severe cases, there are concerns that this injury may increase the risk of heart failure in the future, but more research is needed.
Fontana said the study findings presented two opportunities. The first is to find ways to avoid injury in the first place. “According to some models we’ve seen, blood clotting may play a role we have potential treatments,” he said.
“Second, detecting the consequences of the injury during recovery can identify subjects who will benefit from specific supportive drug treatments to preserve heart function over time,” Fontana said.
The American Heart Association has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: European Heart Journal, newsletter, 18 February 2021