Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
New research has shown some young adults who had COVID-19 – but were not hospitalised – were found to have increased heart issues after being infected, such as stiffness of arteries.
This condition could increase their risk of cardiovascular complications in later life. Dr Steve Ratchford, senior author on the paper, explains:
“These findings suggest a potential long-term impact of Covid-19 on young, relatively healthy adults who may otherwise think the virus may not be affecting them”.
Scientists at Appalachian State University found COVID-19 may have a detrimental impact on arteries in the body, including the carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain.
Young adults were tested 3-4 weeks after being infected with the virus, and an ultrasound was used to examine the carotid artery. Recordings of the participants’ heartbeats were measured for carotid stiffness and compared to a control group of healthy young adults.
The research was published in Experimental Physiology. Scientists will continue to monitor the participants for six months since they were first infected to see if their arterial health improves.
Findings from the study have been hailed as important for healthy, young adults, but also for people who suffered more severe symptoms after being infected with the coronavirus.
Experts have called for further investigation into the issue of heart health, to include a more diverse population of COVID-19 patients such as those with pre-existing underlying health conditions.
Arterial stiffness is also an issue in infections including pneumonia, lupus, rheumatic fever and Kawasaki disease, with this continuing to be a problem after initial symptoms have settled.
Common signs and symptoms that linger over time include, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, joint pain, chest pain, memory and concentration issues, sleep problems, muscle pain, pounding heartbeat, loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety, fever, and dizziness when you stand.
According to Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 damages other organs as well, even though it primarily affects the lungs. Damage to organs such as the heart, lungs and brain may also increase other long-term health issues.
Researchers confirmed that “imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms”.
This, in turn, may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future. Furthermore, pneumonia associated with the coronavirus could cause long-term damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs.
COVID-19 may also cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis – even in young people. Lastly, Mayo Clinic says it may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Additional reporting by Cover Media