The team found that approximately one in seven heart scans revealed severe abnormalities expected to “have a major effect” on the patient’s survival and recovery. In addition, one in three patients had their treatment plan changed specifically because of the echocardiogram’s findings.
“COVID-19 is a complex, multisystem disease which can have profound effects on many parts of the body, including the heart,” lead author Marc R. Dweck, a member of the British Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. “Many doctors have been hesitant to order echocardiograms for patients with Covid-19 because it’s an added procedure which involves close contact with patients. Our work shows that these scans are important—they improved the treatment for a third of patients who received them.”
“Damage to the heart is known to occur in severe flu, but we were surprised to see so many patients with damage to their heart with COVID-19 and so many patients with severe dysfunction,” Dweck added. “We now need to understand the exact mechanism of this damage, whether it is reversible and what the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection are on the heart.”