This Is How Covid Impacts Your Heart, Lungs And Kidneys After Infection

One in eight people with severe Covid were found to have heart inflammation, new research has found
Female Doctor Observing X-Ray Of The Chest
ArtistGNDphotography via Getty Images
Female Doctor Observing X-Ray Of The Chest

Covid affects the heart, lungs and kidneys, according to two new studies, and the impacts could last long after the initial infection has passed.

The first study was carried out in 10 intensive care units across Scotland and examined 121 critically ill patients who were receiving treatment on ventilators due to the impact of coronavirus on their system.

One in three of the patients in the study showed evidence of abnormalities in the right side of the heart – the area that pumps blood to the lungs, researchers found.

Nearly half (47%) of ventilated patients in the study died because of Covid-19, a figure comparable to national and international death rates.

“A combination of factors create the perfect storm for Covid-19 to damage the right side of your heart, which ultimately can cause death,” Dr Philip McCall, lead author of the study and consultant in Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at NHS Golden Jubilee, said.

Experts at the NHS Golden Jubilee University National Hospital in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, said that the findings could play a vital role in not only saving the lives of Covid-19 patients, but for the care of potentially fatal heart and lung issues generally, as well as helping prepare for any possible future pandemic.

Dr Ben Shelley, chief investigator of the study and consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at the NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “The study has revealed that there is no doubt Covid-19 affects the heart and has a major impact on outcomes for the patient.

“However, now that we know this actually happens, and have a better understanding of how it affects people, we can plan for the future and put in place new care plans and treatments to help combat this.”

In another study published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers analysed the outcomes of 159 people hospitalised with Covid between May 2020 and March 2021.

“Our study provides objective evidence of abnormalities at one to two months post-Covid and these findings tie in with persisting symptoms at that time and the likelihood of ongoing health needs one year later,” Prof Colin Berry, of the University of Glasgow, which led the CISCO-19 (Cardiac imaging in Sars coronavirus disease-19) study said.

People who had been hospitalised with Covid showed several abnormalities, including in results from imaging of the heart, lungs and kidneys, the study found.

One in eight of those who were hospitalised for Covid were most likely to have myocarditis, or heart inflammation, experts said. Healthcare workers with acute kidney injury was more likely to have myocarditis as well as those with more severe disease requiring invasive ventilation.

Additionally, people who have been hospitalised with Covid were more likely to need outpatient secondary care or be referred for long Covid, with death and re-hospitalisations also much higher in this group.

Although both studies focussed on patients who experienced severe Covid infection, the results have helped scientists learn about the wide ranging impacts of the virus. Researchers say the findings also serve as a reminder for the general population to stay vigilant about Covid.

Prof Berry added: “Even fit, healthy individuals can suffer severe Covid-19 illness and to avoid this, members of the public should take up the offer of vaccination.”