People who have had Covid-19 may be at increased risk of developing cardiovascular complications in the following year.
An analysis of 153,760 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the early stages of the pandemic before vaccine roll out began found higher rates of a series of cardiovascular complications including include disruptive heart rhythms, inflammation of the heart, blood clots, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attacks and heart failure.
Reporting the details in Nature Medicine, they found people who contracted Covid-19 were 72% more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease, 63% more likely to have a heart attack and 52% more likely to experience a stroke.
Overall, those infected with the virus were 55% more likely than those without Covid-19 to suffer a major adverse cardiovascular event.
The analysis showed that heart disease, including heart failure and death, occurred in 4% more of those who had Covid compared with those who had not been infected, which the researchers noted would translate to large numbers on a population-wide scale.
Being set in the first 10 months of the pandemic, the study did not assess the impact of Delta or Omicron variants.
The risks were evident regardless of age, race, sex and other cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and hyperlipidaemia. But the researchers did note there was a high proportion of older white men in the study.
A deeper understanding of the biologic mechanisms will be needed to inform development of prevention and treatment strategies of the cardiovascular manifestations among people with Covid-19, they conclude.
Study author Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University said: ‘What we’re seeing isn’t good. Covid-19 can lead to serious cardiovascular complications and death.’
He added: ‘For people who were clearly at risk for a heart condition before becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, the findings suggest that Covid-19 may amplify the risk.
‘But most remarkably, people who have never had any heart problems and were considered low risk are also developing heart problems after Covid-19,’ he added.