Who suffers or has suffered from Long Covid are more than twice as likely to develop cardiovascular problems in the months following infection than those who have never had the disease. This is demonstrated by a large meta-analysis of the studies conducted on the subject, which will be presented on March 6 at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans. If Covid-19 has left some ‘trawl’, therefore, be careful of the heart, the specialists of the Italian Society of Cardiology (Sic) recommend, who invite patients with Long Covid to carry out regular checks in the presence of new respiratory or cardiac symptoms.
“Covid-19 is not just a respiratory disease, those who have suspicious symptoms after having had the infection must investigate further to avoid serious cardiovascular consequences”, underlines Pasquale Perrone Filardi, president of Sic. The data of the new study, collected from 11 studies on over 5.8 million people around the world clearly indicate that Long Covid endangers the heart, increasing the cardiovascular risk and that of developing symptoms such as breathlessness, palpitations or chest pain compared to those who have never had the infection.
Previous studies – the cardiologists recall – have already shown that the Sars-CoV-2 infection is associated with a greater risk for the heart and vessels: acute heart damage is one of the most frequent complications of Covid-19, affecting from 20 % to 45% of patients. The new research shows that patients with Long Covid are also at high risk, ie those who for 6 months after the acute infection report symptoms such as chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating. “Estimates indicate that Long Covid can affect up to one in 7 infected people and the data from this meta-analysis clearly show that it is very important to pay attention to any signs of cardiovascular disorders in these subjects”, explains the expert.
“The meta-analysis, which has the strength of large numbers, indicates that Long Covid increases the probability of developing symptoms related to cardiovascular diseases such as chest pain, tiredness, breathlessness, palpitations from 2.3 to 2.5 times compared to those who have not been infected – he continues Perrone Filardi – People with Long Covid are also more likely to have abnormalities in diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, electrocardiograms or imaging tests such as cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography with abnormalities indicative of increased cardiovascular risk or the presence of disturbances”.
The study, which includes data from 450,000 people with cardiovascular complications, also analyzed patients who already had cardiovascular disease and, for example, had already suffered a heart attack. For them too, Long Covid has increased the chances of further complications, such as atrial fibrillation.
“The study showed that those who are infected have a more than double probability of having cardiovascular problems, even if it did not investigate the possible biological mechanisms underlying the greater risk. But it is known that the Sars-CoV-2 virus has among its targets also heart and vessels – adds Ciro Indolfi, past-president of Sic and president of the Italian Federation of Cardiology – It is possible that the chronic inflammation induced by Long Covid has a relevant role and it will be important to investigate further to understand if patients with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions can be protected with specific therapies”.