According to a number of alarming studies, even mild cases of COVID-19 can affect the heart. In one of the most notable, a study published last summer in JAMA Cardiology, researchers found that 78% of a study sample of previously young, healthy people had ongoing signs of heart damage months after they had recovered from the virus. None of them thought anything was wrong with their hearts. If you experience any of these symptoms after a COVID diagnosis, it's a good idea to consult your healthcare provider for their advice. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You Might Have Low Blood Pressure
Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, is a potentially dangerous effect of COVID-19. "Myocarditis can result from direct heart invasion by the virus itself, or more commonly by inflammation caused by cytokine storm," wrote Dara K. Lee Lewis of Harvard Medical School earlier this month. "When this occurs, the heart may become enlarged and weakened, leading to low blood pressure and fluid in the lungs."
You Might Have an Inflamed Heart—and Not Know It
Perhaps scarier still, sometimes myocarditis can produce no symptoms at all. "A recent study showed that asymptomatic heart inflammation was seen on magnetic resonance imaging in up to three-quarters of patients who had recovered from severe COVID-19," wrote Lewis.
You Might Have Fatigue
According to Bob S. Hu, MD, director of cardiac MRI at Sutter Health, several global studies have found that the heart scans of recovered COVID-19 patients reveal elevated levels of troponin, indicating cardiac damage. In those patients, "Fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain were frequent symptoms," reported BioSpace.
You Might Have Chest Pain
"We are starting to see more patients with cardiovascular symptoms ranging from chest pain to palpitations to presyncope or syncope—which is feeling lightheaded, like you're going to faint," said cardiologist Nisha Parikh, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco, in UCSF Magazine.
You Might Have POTS
COVID-19 can cause a phenomenon known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which can linger long after the body has cleared the virus. "POTS, as it's known, is characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate when standing up and can lead to dizziness, fainting, and other debilitating symptoms," said Parikh.
How to Survive This Pandemic
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help. And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.