Long-COVID May Cause Heart Damage

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For some patients, the battle with COVID does not end quickly. COVID symptoms that linger have been identified as long-COVID. One of the serious complications from long-COVID is the effect it can have on the heart.  

What is qualifies as long-COVID? Ashesh Parikh, D.O Cardiologist, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and with Texas Health Physicians Group says Long-COVID is when those same symptoms of COVID continue past the recovery period or three weeks after you receive a positive COVID-19 test.  

“Typically, this means that for people still having symptoms after 3 weeks from initial diagnosis, they would be considered as having Long-COVID. Thus far, it seems that about 10% of adults who have COVID seem to develop Long-COVID.” 

Parikh said Long-COVID has similar symptoms as a regular case of COVID. “General symptoms include fatigue, “brain fog,” shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain.” 

Those who have weakened immune systems are the most at risk for developing long-COVID, as well as people who have problems with their weight, ongoing health issues, and lung disease. Parikh says patients who experience symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, and pain or discomfort with the chest should consult a doctor. A cardiologist can direct the next course of action.  

“Several cardiac symptoms patients get include persistent chest pain and palpitations/tachycardia. Patients can also develop myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, causing chest pain and elevated cardiac biomarkers that can be seen on a blood test. Medications, such as beta-blockers and NSAIDs, are used routinely to help with cardiac symptoms of patients with Long-COVID.” 

The Delta variant is not the culprit for long-COVID. It has been seen in patients with other strains of COVID. Children make up only one percent of long-COVID cases. As cases continue to rise, there could be an increase in long-COVID cases in children. “Thus far, Long-COVID is seen roughly in only about 1% of children, and a majority are above age 11. More research and data collection are necessary as we, unfortunately, continue to see more and more kids with COVID during our current surge,” Parikh said.  

A study published in The Lancet documented how long-COVID affected people’s ability to return to regular employment or even having to stop working altogether. It can become a disability due to the severity of the symptoms.  

Some of the symptoms could affect the long-term health of an individual, especially any damage done to the heart. The severity and certainty of this are still unknown as doctors still conduct research. It is important to get long-COVID diagnosed early to start a course for treatment to avoid any further complications.  

In Dallas County, the COVID recovery rate is 98.7% which is slightly better than the U.S. rate of 98.4%. Roughly thirteen percent of Dallas County has contracted COVID.  

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