Among the organs affected by the new coronavirus is the heart. This attack can occur either during the illness or after it, so it also concerns the long covid syndrome.
The syndrome presents with various symptoms and complications, which persist or appear two to four weeks after a COVID-19 infection. It mainly affects the lungs, but also other organs, such as the heart.
“Especially in the heart, it can manifest as myocarditis, which is inflammation, or as pericarditis, that is, inflammation of the sac that surrounds it,” points out Dr. Ioannis Palios MD, Ph.D, Cardiologist, Director of the Cardiac Magnetic Tomography Department at Metropolitan Hospital. It should be noted that both inflammations can also be caused by some other germ or virus, or even by some autoimmune disease.
Symptoms can range from mild such as pain, tightness, feeling of heaviness in the chest (“flattening”), shortness of breath, arrhythmias, tachycardia, hypotension to more severe related to fainting-syncope or thrombotic episodes.
How the heart is checked after COVID-19
After a COVID-19 infection, a visit to the cardiologist is mandatory. The specialist will start with the usual tests, i.e. clinical examination, electrocardiogram, heart triplex, but may also request more specialized testing, such as a blood test called troponin and specific for myocardial damage and an imaging, i.e. magnetic resonance imaging heart, specific for the diagnosis of myocarditis or pericarditis after a COVID-19 infection.
Gold standard examination
Cardiac MRI is an easy, safe, painless, radiation-free test that has a success rate of up to 99% in diagnosing or ruling out the diagnosis of myocarditis or pericarditis after COVID-19. That is why it is the so-called gold standard examination in the possible diagnosis of myocarditis or pericarditis.
Myocarditis, Pericarditis: What you need to know
“Acute myocarditis can significantly worsen cardiac function and therefore requires appropriate medication, rest, abstinence from work and sports, and cardiac monitoring from three to six months after diagnosis and sometimes longer. Acute pericarditis also requires rest, usually of shorter duration, and rarely a combination of medication and rest.
In general, it is good to know the possible symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis and if you have these or similar symptoms to seek medical help, even if you have not been sick with COVID-19″, concludes Dr. Palios.
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