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4 Ways Long COVID Can Hurt Your Heart

cardiologist holding mask and stethoscope
Written by: Jennifer

After overcoming a COVID-19 infection, many people may still feel side effects for months. In fact, these lingering symptoms could persist up to six months or longer post-infection.

Known as Long COVID, long-lasting COVID symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways. But in some studies, over 78% of patients specifically experience cardiac-related symptoms – with 60% of these patients feeling them for at least three months.

Unfortunately, there is no real way (as of yet) to determine who will experience Long COVID and heart-related complications (this includes the severity of a COVID-19 infection). 

According to research conducted by Dr. Valentina Püntmann, heart abnormalities were identified in “three out of every four patients, regardless of how sick they had been during their COVID-19 infection or their preexisting conditions.” 

This being said, what heart problems, in particular, is Long COVID becoming known for? Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common heart problems after COVID.

Irregular Heart Beat

An irregular heart beat, also known as arrhythmia, is a commonly reported heart problem after COVID. 

“New electrocardiographic changes and arrhythmias were detected in up to one-third of survivors of non-severe COVID-19.” – Satterfield, B.A., Bhatt, D.L. & Gersh, B.J. Cardiac involvement in the long-term implications of COVID-19

While an irregular heartbeat can be caused by issues such as dehydration, body aches, and shortness of breath, it’s still important to speak with your doctor. This way, they can rule out other, more serious Long COVID complications – such as myocarditis, blood clots, and heart dysfunction.

Keep Reading: The 5 most common Long COVID symptoms

Chest Pain 

Similar to an irregular heartbeat, chest pain may simply be a temporary, yet lingering side effect of a COVID-19 infection; however, it could also be a more serious issue. Either way, chest pain can definitely impact your quality of life and may require post-COVID care.

“Chest pain has been found to affect up to 22% of patients 2 months following acute COVID-19.” – Nursing In Practice

Make sure to seek out professional medical care if you’re experiencing chest pain with any of the following symptoms:

Myocarditis

Myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – is another common heart problem after COVID. Myocarditis can lead to many serious complications, such as “heart failure, a heart attack, stroke, and even sudden cardiac arrest.” In less severe instances, however, myocarditis after COVID can reduce the heart’s ability to pump and cause arrhythmia. 

“In late July, shocking findings from a study published in JAMA Cardiology suggested that after being screened via cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, 60% of Covid-19 survivors (independent of the severity of the illness) had developed myocarditis.” – JAMA Cardiology

If you are experiencing any side effects associated with myocarditis, follow up with your doctor. During these follow-ups, they can run tests and scans to confirm any myocardial damage and its severity.

Keep Reading: How long does fatigue last after COVID?

Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations is considered another common heart problem associated with Long COVID. With heart palpitations, it might feel as if your heart is beating or pounding irregularly. This could last up to a few minutes at a time.

Heart palpitations after COVID-19 may not be a serious issue; however, there are certain scenarios that could require medical intervention.

When you should see a doctor for heart palpitations:

  • You have chest pain
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • Your palpitations are getting longer and more intense
  • You have other heart complications 

Dealing with heart problems after COVID?

Don’t let heart problems after COVID negatively impact your quality of life. With EECP at Flow Therapy, it is possible to manage symptoms associated with Long COVID. EECP is a non-invasive therapy that has been shown to improve circulation, reduce joint pain, reduce shortness of breath, and increase exercise capacity.  

Results from EECP Therapy for Long COVID include:

  • Chest pain symptoms improved in 97% of patients
  • Fatigue improved in 88% of patients
  • Walking distance improved in 83% of patients by 163 feet
  • Breathing difficulty improved in 63% of patients

“Emerging data shows that long COVID is a disease that impacts the health of vessels, also known as endothelial function. EECP is a disease-modifying, non-invasive therapy that has previously shown to improve endothelial function in controlled clinical trials. We currently believe that this is the most plausible explanation for the benefits derived from EECP and the link to long COVID.” – Sachin A. Shah, PharmD via American College of Cardiology

If you’d like to learn more about Flow Therapy and how it works, check out our additional resources or reach out to us online. Interested in seeing if you’re a candidate for EECP? Take our free, online Long COVID assessment.

Additional Resources:


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