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Link between Covid and heart disease probed

Posted on the 7th June 2023

Covid Heart Health

Mild cases of COVID-19 can have long-term detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, according to new research.

A team of scientists compared pre- and post-Covid infection levels of arterial stiffness, which can highlight ageing and how healthy the arteries are.

They found that in those who had been diagnosed with mild Covid, artery and central cardiovascular function were affected by the disease two to three months after infection.

Their report, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, suggests that side effects include stiffer and more dysfunctional arteries that could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.

Co-author, Dr Maria Perissiou from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Sport, Health & Exercise Science, said: “We were surprised to observe such a decline in vascular health, which deteriorated even further with time since Covid-19 infection.

“Usually, you’d expect inflammation to decrease with time after infection, and for all the physiological functions to go back to normal or a healthy level.

“We can only speculate on what causes this phenomenon without further investigation, but emerging evidence suggests that it stems from Covid-19 triggering the auto-immune process that leads to vasculature deterioration.”

Participants for the study, which was part of the University of Split’s NormPreven project, were mostly aged under 50 and healthy and were monitored between October 2019 and April 2022.

Professor Ana Jeroncic, from the University of Split, who led the study, said: “Given the number of people infected with Covid-19 worldwide, the fact that infection can have harmful effects on cardiovascular health in young people who had a mild form of the disease warrants close monitoring.

“The question remains as to whether this harmful effect is irreversible or permanent, and if not, for how long it lasts.”

Last week, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 no longer represents a "global health emergency.”

Officials said the virus' death rate had dropped from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on 24 April.

However, the organization warned the removal of the highest level of alert did not mean the danger was over and said the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed.

Related: Covid mental health impact not as great as first thought

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