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Long COVID and heart conditions -- even mild cases can cause long-term problems

Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

ATLANTA — Chadwick Knight weathered a rough bout of COVID-19 back in January 2021 without being hospitalized, but he never bounced back to his former healthy self.

He got winded all the time. He experienced brain fog.

Then, well over a year since catching the coronavirus, the 47-year-old collapsed on his living room floor last month. He was rushed to an emergency room with a new, life-threatening post-COVID complication: a blood clot in an artery going from his heart to his lungs.

“You get sick, and you think you’re pretty much better and then you are still having issues. And now, it just seems like more things on top of things, and you don’t know what the future holds,” said Knight, who lived in metro Atlanta for several years before recently moving to Dothan, Alabama. “It causes you to worry a lot and weighs you down a lot mentally.”

Cardiac doctors are reporting a growing number of patients like Knight, who have lingering post-COVID cardiovascular symptoms or new, serious heart conditions. These patients may have a wide range of heart problems, including irregular or racing heartbeat, blood clots, coronary disease and heart failure.

A new large study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 1 in 5 adult COVID survivors under the age of 65 in the United States has experienced at least one health condition that could be considered long COVID. Among those 65 and over, the number is 1 in 4.

 

Long COVID is the name given to symptoms of a coronavirus infection that linger for more than a month and can include problems in many different organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys.

The extent of long COVID cardiac symptoms is coming into better focus.

“We’ve seen, since early on, patients come in with long COVID,” said Dr. Jeffrey Marshall, chief of Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Institute. “And the first thing that doctors have to do is decide does this patient have objective heart disease, or do they have this syndrome where they tend to be dizzy when they stand up — people who have a fast heart rate, fatigue, but they don’t have anything structurally wrong with their heart based on our current knowledge?”

In a recent study of the health records of more than 150,000 people who were treated for COVID in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities before Jan. 15, 2021, researchers found that the patients had a “substantial” risk of developing cardiovascular problems for at least a year after a positive test for the virus.

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©2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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