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Reassuring findings from Ireland’s largest prospective study on long COVID and heart health

Published Thursday, October 7th, 2021 at 12:30 pm

  • Findings from Ireland’s largest prospective study on long COVID and heart health show a high proportion of participants presented with residual cardiac symptoms, but prevalence of lasting cardiac damage is low.
  • The study prospectively recruited a total of 100 participants from GP surgeries in Dublin who had a recent history of COVID-19 infection.
  • Amongst patients who experienced new onset cardiac specific symptoms since being diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, 62% reported shortness of breath, 54% palpitations, 53% dizziness/light headedness, 41% chest pain/heaviness, and 4% syncope.
  • Although a high proportion of the patients who participated in the study presented with residual cardiac symptoms, the good news is that initial findings provide reassurance that there is a low prevalence of lasting cardiac damage.
  • Study showcases importance of collaboration between hospitals and primary care.

 

The preliminary findings on the SETANTA study (Study of Heart Disease and Immunity after COVID-19 in Ireland), Ireland’s largest prospective study on long COVID and heart health, will be presented at the Irish Cardiac Society’s 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting on Thursday 7 October by researchers based at CVRI Dublin at the Mater Private Network and RSCI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. The SETANTA study was funded by the Mater Private Network and WomenAsOne, a US non-profit foundation to support female researchers.

The study prospectively recruited a total of 100 participants from GP surgeries in Dublin who had a recent history of COVID-19 infection. The participants underwent detailed state-of-the-art cardiac work up with cardiac MRI, ECG, heart-monitor, blood tests and provided their medical history.

In the total cohort of 100 cases that participated in the CVRI Dublin led SETANTA study, the mean age was 45 years -amongst which 64% were females. 60% had already received their first dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine at presentation.

Residual complaints, on average 6 months after acute Covid illness, were common. The most commonly reported SARS-CoV-2 specific symptoms were, fatigue/malaise (43% resolved, 43% persistent), myalgia (63% resolved, 11% persistent), headache (66% resolved, 22% persistent), fever (50% resolved, 3% persistent), productive/non-productive cough (49% resolved, 4% persistent), loss of sense of smell (32% resolved, 17% persistent), loss of sense of taste (31% resolved, 15% persistent), sore throat (29% resolved, 2% persistent), gastrointestinal disturbance (33% resolved, 6% persistent) and skin rashes (9% resolved, 1% persistent).

Amongst new onset cardiac specific symptoms since index SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis, 62% reported shortness of breath, 54% palpitations, 53% dizziness/light headedness, 41% chest pain/heaviness, and 4% syncope.

Although a high proportion of the patients who participated in the study presented with residual symptoms, the good news is that initial findings provide reassurance that there is a low prevalence of lasting cardiac damage. While 1 in 10 patients showed some evidence of fluid collection around the heart, less than 3% showed evidence of significant heart scarring.

It has been found that hospital settings are not always representative of a broad range of patient groups, an important aspect of SETANTA study design was that patients were invited to participate in the study through their GPs in the community.

This ensured that the study population was representative of the community. 18% reported severe symptoms, 35% reported moderate symptoms, with the balance reporting mild or no symptoms.