Patients showed abnormal changes to the way their heart was pumping.
Half of the COVID-19 patients who received a cardiac ultrasound or scan in hospital showed abnormalities, according to a new study.
Researchers from the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Edinburgh looked at echocardiogram results of 1216 patients from 69 countries with Covid-19.
The study, titled Global evaluation of echocardiography in patients with COVID-19 and published in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Imaging, found that around one in seven showed severe abnormalities likely to have a major effect on their survival and recovery.
It found that over half (55%) of all patients, including those with pre-existing heart disease, showed abnormal changes to the way their heart was pumping, with around one in seven showing evidence of severe dysfunction.
Could prove crucial.
The majority (901) had no known heart disease before the study and showed similar changes. Almost half (46 per cent) and one in eight (13 per cent) showed abnormal changes and severe dysfunction respectively.
These changes were observed for the first time during the patients’ Covid-19 illness and the researchers believe they could be due to the effects of the virus.
The findings suggest that heart scans could prove crucial for identifying patients who may benefit from additional treatments to improve their Covid-19 recovery and prevent potential long-term damage to their heart.
Professor Marc Dweck, British Heart Foundation Senior Lecturer and Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, said: “COVID-19 is a complex, multisystem disease which can have profound effects on many parts of the body, including the heart. Many doctors have been hesitant to order echocardiograms for patients with Covid-19 because it’s an added procedure that involves close contact with patients.
“Our work shows that these scans are important – they improved the treatment for a third of patients who received them.”