People with this heart problem may have lower risk of COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found that people born with a heart defect who developed COVID-19 symptoms had a low risk of moderate or severe COVID-19 infection.

The research was conducted by a team at Columbia University.

In the study, the team explored the impact of COVID-19 infection on patients with congenital heart disease (CHD).

They tested more than 7,000 adult and pediatric patients born with a heart defect. Fifty-three CHD patients (median age 34) with COVID-19 infection were reported at their center between March and July 2020.

Among the 43 adults and 10 children with a congenital heart defect infected with COVID-19, additional characteristics included: 58% had complex congenital anatomy; 15% had a genetic syndrome; 11% had pulmonary hypertension, and 17% had obesity.

The team also found that the presence of a concurrent genetic syndrome in all patients and advanced physiologic stage in adult patients were each associated with an increased risk of symptom severity.

Five patients had trisomy 21 (an extra chromosome at position 21); four patients had Eisenmenger’s syndrome (abnormal blood circulation caused by structural defects in the heart), and two patients had DiGeorge syndrome (a condition caused by the deletion of a segment of chromosome 22).

Nearly all patients with trisomy 21 and DiGeorge syndrome had moderate/severe COVID-19 symptoms.

As for outcomes among all 53 patients with CHD: nine patients (17%) had a moderate/severe infection, and three patients (6%) died.

These results imply that specific congenital heart lesions may not be sufficient cause alone for severe COVID-19 infection.

This may be because the CHD community, at large, is younger than the general population or because individuals with CHD may have distinct risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection when compared to the general population.

It is possible that elderly CHD patients might have a different risk profile than the general population.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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