COVID-19 infections may cause inflammation in the heart for months, according to two studies from Germany, both published in JAMA Cardiology on June 29.
One study examined cardiac magnetic resonance images from 100 COVID-19 patients on the University Hospital Frankfurt COVID-19 Registry between April and June. Patients were mostly otherwise healthy adults. CMRs were taken two to three months after COVID-19 diagnoses, when most patients appeared to be fully recovered. The CMRs were compared to images from people who’d never been infected with the virus.
Of 100 patients, 78 had abnormal CMRs. Of the patients with abnormal images, 60 showed signs of ongoing heart inflammation.
No preexisting conditions explain the damage, according to the study authors, and only a third of patients had been hospitalized for virus complications. The rest stayed home throughout the course of their illness.
The other study examined autopsies from 39 people who died from COVID-19 complications. The median patient age was 85. Researchers found evidence of the coronavirus in the heart tissue for 24 of the patients. Of the 24 patients, five showed signs that the virus had begun to replicate in the heart tissue.
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