Heart disease

How does contracting Covid-19 affect the heart?

Drivetime with John Beattie

BBC Radio Scotland

A global study conducted by Edinburgh University has found that more than half of all patients showed abnormalities in the heart after contracting Covid-19.

“We know that patients with heart disease are at increased risk of getting Covid-19, and also that infection can have an impact on the heart and circulation," explained Dr Anda Bularga, a clinical research fellow at the university who took part in the study.

"Half the scans showed some form of abnormality in how the heart was pumping, which was often mild, but in one in seven patients the damage was severe, meaning the heart was struggling to effectively pump enough blood around the body."

Secondary analysis of patients who did not have any previous heart problems showed quite a large number – about 45% - had changes on their heart scan.

"We are trying to figure out if this a direct effect of the virus on heart muscle, or indirectly from the illness," Dr Bularga tells BBC Radio Scotland. "To be honest it is probably a combination of both.

"Now we can concentrate on what is the exact mechanism and what do we need to do next?"

Quite a few studies have already started, she added.