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Heart scans show extent of damage in Covid-19 cases

MORE than half of heart scans among hospitalised Covid-19 patients are abnormal, suggesting the virus could have a devastating impact on the organ, a study finds.

Changes to the way the heart was pumping were found in 55 per cent of 1,261 patients, with about one in seven showing evidence of severe dysfunction, according to research backed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Of the Covid-19 patients studied, 901 had never been diagnosed with problems before. In this group, heart scans were abnormal in 46 per cent and 13 per cent had severe disease.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the BHF, said: ‘Severe Covid-19 illness can result in damage to the heart and circulatory system.

‘We urgently need to understand more about why this is happening so we can provide appropriate care.’

The study, carried out with the University of Edinburgh, found the abnormalities were almost evenly split between the left and right chambers of the heart. Three per cent of patients had suffered a recent heart attack.

As a result of their scan, one third of patients had their treatment changed, including being given medicines for heart failure, or more careful control of fluids and therapy designed to support heart function.

The team cautioned the study cannot conclude how common heart changes are in people who do not have scans. All patients in the study had suspected heart complications.

Study leader Prof Marc Dweck said: ‘Damage to the heart is known to occur in severe flu, but we were surprised to see so many patients with damage to their heart with Covid-19 and so many patients with severe dysfunction.

‘We now need to understand the exact mechanism of this damage, whether it is reversible and what the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection are on the heart.’