Persistent Cardiac Injury in COVID-19 Survivors

COVID-19 can cause acute cardiac injury (ACI), which increases the risk for serious illness and death during and after hospitalization. But it’s unclear how often ACI affects COVID-19 patients nor whether cardiac injury persists.

In a study published online on February 7 in eBioMedicine, Tim Duong, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed the records of 10,696 COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 2020 and June 2021; 39% of them (4,248) had been diagnosed with ACI. Those patients were 4.45 times more likely to die in the hospital compared with hospitalized COVID-19 patients who did not have ACI. For COVID-19 patients with ACI who were discharged and returned for follow-up care, 55.8% still suffered from cardiac injury an average of 2.5 months after discharge. The authors found that blood levels of troponin, creatinine, lymphocytes and sodium that were measured at discharge predicted, within an accuracy range of 64%-76%, whether patients with ACI would survive after leaving the hospital. The findings suggest that hospitalized COVID-19 patients should routinely be evaluated for possible ACI and that patients diagnosed with the condition should be monitored for future cardiovascular complications.

Dr. Duong is professor and vice chair for research of radiology at Einstein and Montefiore, professor of physiology & biophysics, and professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein.

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