A recent article published in Science journal (October 23, 2020) entitled COVID-19 can affect the heart reporting that SARS-Cov-19 infection, even with mild or no symptoms, could produce adverse effects in the heart within a few months of having contracted the infection.
In this regard, the presence of a heart condition in some hospitalized Covid-19 patients seems increasingly evident. Thus, in a recent paper, it was determined that between 7% and 17% of these patients had elevated troponin (a protein found in the blood when the myocardium is damaged), rising to 22% to 31% in patients admitted to intensive care units (references 1 to 3 of 11). The most common cause of this elevation was myocarditis.
160 young American athletes involved in a study of eventual Covid-19 cardiac damages
More recently, changes have been found in the left and right ventricles of patients with Covid-19, which persist for several weeks and months after the patient has recovered (reference 4 of 11). The effects of these abnormalities are not known. An article has now been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on Nov 25, 2020, which assesses the effects of Covid-19 on the hearts of 160 young American athletes. Of these,
- 53 (33.15%) were positive on PCR,
- 7 (4.3%) had IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, and
- 4 (2.5%) were positive for both tests.
The methodology used to detect eventual Covid-19 cardiac damages
By 9th August, 54 of the subjects had undergone extensive cardiac imaging studies. Sequential cardiac MRI performed in 48 subjects identified cardiac abnormalities in 27 (56.3%): of these, only 19 (39.5%) showed pericardial late enhancements. That is, more than 1 in 3 young athletes who had experienced mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infection had varying degrees of pericardial disease.
The authors concluded that, “although the immediate and long-term clinical relevance of these findings remains unclear, […] mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 is not a benign illness, considering that more than one-half of younger individuals showed subclinical myocardial and pericardial disease.” More studies are needed.