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Long COVID-19 and the Heart

Smidt Heart Institute Experts Highlight What They Now Know About the Impact of the Virus on the Heart

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Smidt Heart Institute physicians have found that COVID-19's effects on the heart are treatable and reversible. Illustration by Getty Images / Via Cedars Sinai.
Smidt Heart Institute physicians have found that COVID-19’s effects on the heart are treatable and reversible. Illustration by Getty Images / Via Cedars Sinai.

Mega Doctor News

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CEDARS-SINAI – After treating COVID-19 survivors for nearly two years, cardiologists in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai highlight what they have learned about the impact of the virus on the heart—and how to most effectively treat patients who are recovering from these varying conditions.    

“Since our clinic founding in late 2020, we have treated more than 100 patients with specific heart-related concerns due to COVID-19,” said Siddharth Singh, MD, director of the Post COVID-19 Cardiology Clinic in the Smidt Heart Institute. This first-of-its-kind program was created uniquely for COVID-19 survivors, with an added goal of aiding ongoing research.

The take-home message, which Singh hopes will bring a sense of comfort to virus survivors, is that long-lasting damage to the heart due to COVID-19 is rare and treatable.

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“We are encouraged that patients are recovering from long COVID-19 and getting back to their everyday activities and lives,” said Singh, also an assistant professor of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai.

Who is At Risk? 

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, researchers have learned that the cardiovascular system can be affected in patients who experienced minor or no symptoms as well as patients who were severely ill with the virus.

“Patients with preexisting heart and vascular issues may be at an increased risk for developing long-lasting complications from COVID-19,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute and the Mark S. Siegel Family Foundation Distinguished Professor. “Given the ubiquity of COVID-19, recognition of potential long-term health issues is important as we learn more about the virus and its aftereffects.”

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The major cardiovascular issues affecting COVID-19 survivors include problems with fast heart rate and lightheadedness, especially when upright—also referred to as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), or dysautonomia—chest pain linked to inflammation in the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart, difficulty exercising due to shortness of breath, and heart arrhythmias.

“For these conditions, we have utilized well-studied cardiovascular therapies to treat patients,” said Singh.

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