Long-term effects of coronavirus may impact the heart

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INDIANAPOLIS — The long-term effects of COVID-19 remain an ever-evolving mystery, but studies are now showing some people may be dealing with potentially deadly heart inflammation called myocarditis.

“Usually happens from an infection, typically a virus, but bacteria can cause it as well,” explains Ryan Serrano, a pediatric cardiologist at Riley Hospital for Children. “It is one of the more common causes of death, and sudden death, in athletes and young people.”

Recent reports showed that some Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 also showed symptoms of myocarditis. Pediatric cardiologists are Riley Children’s Health say the condition is often caused by a virus, and is one of the more common causes of death or sudden death in athletes and young people. It is possible for a COVID-19 survivor to have the condition, and not know until it is too late.

“We are talking about risk of death, and not even making it out of college because of something like this. It could potentially affect your long-term ability to play sports, but in the short term, it also could drastically shorten your life if you are one of the unlucky ones,” says Serrano, “If your heart is inflamed, and then you go play a rigorous exercise or a vigorous sport, than that risk is increased.”

The severity of the condition can vary, along with whether or not someone makes a full recovery. Serrano adds that someone may feel no symptoms at all, or could end up in an intensive care unit. He says treatment for some patients may simply be rest and withholding from exercise.

“Even for young, healthy people, for some people, it will turn into a chronic problem where the heart may never be back to normal,” warns Serrano.

The scariest part Serrano is that doctors don’t know how many COVID-19 survivors may have this condition, especially people who were diagnosed early in the pandemic, and were told to just stay home and rest. They may be back out running or exercising.

“Most people who get COVID aren’t going to have an MRI of their heart, especially if they are asymptomatic,” details Serrano.

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