One third of hospitalised Covid patients have heart condition one year later

The doctoral research of cardiologist Maria Luiza Luchian (UZ Brussel) has shown that thorough screening of hospitalised Covid patients leads to a better long-term risk assessment for cardiovascular disease. One third of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in fact develop a heart lesion after one year.

During the first COVID-19 wave, Dr Luchian followed up 310 patients from the start of the acute infection, with additional check-ups at six and twelve months after their discharge from UZ Brussel. She also evaluated the presence of the protein cardiac troponin and of calcium in the coronary arteries in Covid patients to find out to what extent they can serve to predict heart disease and mortality.

The impact has now been clearly demonstrated. After one year, she found abnormal levels of cardiac troponin, a protein mainly found in the heart muscle, in one third of the patients. The changes in the evolution of this protein can indicate various acute complications such as myocarditis, heart attacks or cardiac arrhythmias.

A CT scan of the chest and an extensive ultrasound scan of the heart revealed the following findings:

"We observed subtle changes in the heart muscle that can be linked to the persistence of the symptoms, even in patients with no history of lung or heart disease. A further in-depth analysis, using a new technique called Myocardial Work, showed that heart pump function was slightly altered in these patients," says Luchian.




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