The long-term impact of COVID-19 brings a focus on our hearts

Coronavirus Facts First

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Medical professionals continue to evaluate the long-term impact of COVID-19.

Dr. Mathew Devine discussed the areas of focus Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“The CDC is actively working to learn more about the whole range of short and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19,” said Dr. Devine. “As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health. One of the health effects that CDC is closely watching and working to understand relates to COVID-19 and the heart.”

Dr. Devine explained that heart conditions associated with COVID-19 include inflammation and damage to the heart muscle itself, known as myocarditis, or inflammation of the covering of the heart, known as pericarditis. “These conditions can occur by themselves or in combination. Heart damage may be an important part of severe disease and death from COVID-19, especially in older people with underlying illness. Heart damage like this might also explain some frequently reported long-term symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, and heart palpitations.”

The risk of heart damage may not be limited to older and middle-aged adults according to Dr. Devine. “Young adults with COVID-19, including athletes, can also suffer from myocarditis,” he noted. “Severe heart damage has occurred in young, healthy people, but it is rare. There may be more cases of mild effects of COVID-19 on the heart that can be diagnosed with special imaging tests, including in younger people with mild or minimal symptoms; however, the long-term significance of these mild effects on the heart are unknown.”

Dr. Devine concluded by saying the best strategies for preventing COVID-19 infection in youth and adults are to wear a mask in public places, stay at least six feet away from other people, frequently wash your hands, and avoid crowds and confined or poorly ventilated spaces.

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