New evidence shows that COVID-19 can have lasting effects on heart health.
The first study analyzed 100 coronavirus patients from the University Hospital Frankfurt COVID-19 Registry. Most were adults in their 40s and 50s that were healthy.
All of the patients had MRIs done of their hearts two to three months after they tested positive for COVID-19, when they appeared to have recovered from the novel virus. The pictures were then compared to people who never tested positive for the deadly virus.
Of those 100 patients who tested positive, 78 still had signs that the virus had an impact on the heart. Sixty of those patients had symptoms of ongoing inflammation of the heart muscle.
"That's really compelling," Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology in the department of medicine at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, said. "It indicates that months after exposure to COVID-19, we can still detect evidence of a heart that's not completely normal."
Researchers say the findings could indicate the risk for further heart damage, even if there are no symptoms present.
"Once the heart muscle has been injured, there is the potential for progressive injury," Yancy added.
The second study looked at the autopsy reports from 39 COVID-19 victims, most of which were in their 80s. The researchers found that 24 of the 39 victims had traces of the virus still in their hearts.
Due to the virus being so new, it is not yet confirmed what long-term cardiovascular risks come with COVID-19.
Which makes the findings of these studies something to keep an eye on, Yancy said.
"It makes me say, 'We are not done yet.' We must respect COVID-19," he told the outlet.
"There is still much that we don't know. We have to stay on guard."