A new analysis of nearly six million patients confirms what cardiologists have been seeing for years: Patients who experience long-lasting symptoms after a COVID-19 diagnosis, commonly known as long COVID, face a much higher risk of cardiovascular complications.

The new systematic review and meta-analysis, which included data from 11 major studies, will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s upcoming annual meeting, ACC.23 Together with the World Congress of Cardiology in New Orleans.

Overall, researchers found that patients with long COVID were more than twice as likely to experience cardiac complications such as chest pain and shortness of breath than patients who never had COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is more than a simple respiratory disease—it is a syndrome that can affect the heart,” lead author Joanna Lee, a medical student at David Tvildiani Medical University in Georgia, said in a prepared statement previewing the study. “Clinicians should be aware that cardiac complications can exist and investigate further if a patient complains of these symptoms, even a long time after contracting COVID-19. For patients, if you had COVID-19 and you continue to have difficulty breathing or any kind of new heart problems, you should go to the doctor and get it checked out.”

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