Heart injury seen in many people in early recovery from COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found many patients recently recovered from COVID-19 infection have signs of heart injury.

The research was conducted by a team from the University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany.

In the study, the team examined the presence of heart injury in 100 patients recently recovered from COVID-19 illness (67 recovered at home; 33 required hospitalization).

Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging was obtained for all patients; the average interval between COVID-19 diagnosis and CMR imaging was 71 days.

The researchers found that among patients recently recovered from COVID-19, high-sensitivity troponin T was detectable in 71 patients and was strongly increased in five patients at the time of CMR imaging.

The high-sensitivity cardiac troponin test is the latest generation of the cardiac enzyme testing that allows for the detection of very low levels of troponin T, helping to diagnose heart attacks more quickly.

Patients recently recovered from COVID-19 had lower left ventricular ejection fraction, higher left ventricular volumes, and higher left ventricle mass compared with a group of 50 healthy controls and 57 risk factor-matched patients.

Abnormal CMR imaging findings occurred in 78% of patients recently recovered from COVID-19, including raised myocardial native T1 and T2 (73 and 60 patients, respectively), myocardial late gadolinium enhancement (32 patients), and pericardial enhancement (22 patients).

There was a correlation noted for high-sensitivity troponin T with native T1 and T2 mapping.

Native T1 and T2 were the measures with the best discriminatory ability to detect heart injury related to COVID-19.

The results provide important insights into the prevalence of heart injury in the early convalescent stage, the team says.

One author of the study is Valentina O. Puntmann, M.D., Ph.D.

The study is published in JAMA Cardiology.

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