COVID is now Breaking Hearts!
Just when you thought there was no chance of more concerning news, a recent article appeared suggesting that COVID is breaking hearts. A recent JAMA article, attached below reported some rather concerning findings. The German researchers found that 78% of all adults with COVID had some degree of heart damage and 60% had persistent heart inflammation.
The part that is most concerning is that the authors note that the heart changes were, “was independent of preexisting conditions, severity and overall course of the acute illness, and the time from the original diagnosis.” They go on to mention that the changes are possible even in the asymptomatic COVID patients.
Terrifying news indeed! Now I encourage you to read the fine print. This is where things get somewhat weirder. When you look at the patient selection, you find that 33 of the total 100 patients selected were hospitalized. To my knowledge, 33% of all COVID patients in real life are not hospitalized.
In fact, according to the CDC, even our most vulnerable/elderly population are hospitalized at a lower frequency than the population depicted in this study.
This suggests a somewhat skewed patient pool that was generally more sick or severely affected in contrast to the general population. This is further highlighted by the percentage of asymptomatic individuals in this study, which was 18%. Most existing data suggests that 40-50% of the general population is asymptomatic upon contracting this virus.
What I find unusual is that the authors also do not tell us exactly which patient populations suffered the severe heart disease. Was it the asymptomatic patients or the severely affected only? We don’t know. It is plausible that the 18% asymptomatic patients were part of the 22% who did not suffer any complication.
To my knowledge, while the previously mentioned multi-systemic inflammatory condition or Kawasaki-like disease is still a rare threat to children, I am not aware of data suggesting findings similar to this study are showing in children.
Work through this for yourself and see with what conclusion you come up.
My take: COVID is not anything any person in their right mind would electively want to contract. It is not a pleasant disease by any stretch of the imagination. We should all be cautious, responsible and do our part to prevent contracting and spreading this illness. Does this data mean you need to live in fear or perhaps reconsider having your children go to school (presuming you are all healthy and without vulnerable family members)? Perhaps not. The findings of this study should be taken seriously, but perhaps the findings are not as applicable to our entire population as the headlines read. We need to wait for additional studies.
My 2 cents: Be cautious. Be aware and responsible. Do your part to prevent spread. And don’t live in fear.