One in eight people admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 between May 2020 and March 2021 was later diagnosed with myocarditis or heart inflammation, research into the long-term effects of the virus has found.
Glasgow University and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde conducted the largest study of its kind, tracking 159 coronavirus patients after admission.
It showed that they had a number of ongoing health conditions.
The study, published in the journal Nature, examined why some patients suffered from long-term ill health after being hospitalized with Covid-19.
Previously, it has been speculated that long-term ill health is associated with pre-existing medical conditions, but Glasgow University research suggested that it was instead the severity of the coronavirus infection.
The study “Cisco” (Cardiac Imaging in SARS Coronavirus disease) followed the group of discharged patients for a year and compared their health with a control group of people with similar characteristics.
Additional assessments will be made at the 18-month and 5-year grades for the patients.
Researchers found that one in eight patients admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 has heart inflammation, while inflammation throughout the body and damage to other organs such as the kidneys were also common.
Principal Investigator Professor Colin Berry said: “Covid-19 is a multi-system disease and our study shows that damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys can be seen after initial hospitalization in scans and blood tests.
These findings bridge an important knowledge gap between our current understanding of post-Covid-19 syndromes, such as long-term Covid, and objective evidence of ongoing disease.
“One of the key findings of the Cisco study is that it is the severity of a patient’s Covid-19 infection – not their underlying state of health – that is most closely correlated with the severity of any ongoing health outcomes after discharge.
“We found that previously healthy patients, without any underlying health conditions, suffered from serious health outcomes, including myocarditis, post-hospitalization.
The reasons for this are unclear, but it may be that a healthy person hospitalized with Covid-19 is more likely to have a worse Covid infection than a person with underlying health conditions hospitalized.
“More work needs to be done here to understand the risks, and also on how we can better support patients who have persistent health outcomes after being admitted with Covid-19.”
The research paper said women were more likely to suffer from post-covid myocarditis, which in turn was associated with lower mental and physical well-being.
Patients were enrolled in the study during the first and second wave of the pandemic, and as a result, many were unvaccinated.