The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted early the critical importance of understanding the virus’s impact on various organ systems, including the heart. Early research showed that individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions were at a heightened risk of severe illness and mortality from COVID-19. However, the long-term effects of COVID-19, particularly in those who were hospitalized, have remained a subject of discussion and debate followed by investigation.
Insights from early data from the WHF long COVID study is unveiled at the ESC Congress during presentation of the abstract titled “Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease, and Long COVID at 3 Months in Individuals Hospitalized with COVID-19: This study, conducted by the World Heart Federation (WHF), aims to determine short-and long-term clinical sequelae among COVID-19 hospitalized patients across 16 low-middle-,upper-middle and high-income countries.
Early results show that the mortality rate at 3-months post-discharge was 3.3%, considered relatively high compared to studies conducted in other high-income countries. Over a third (37%) presented with at least one persistent long COVID symptoms 3-months post-discharge. A sizeable proportion of patients reported problems in mobility, self-care, usual activities and anxiety post-discharge at 3 months.
The research presented at the ESC Congress 2023 underscores the necessity of addressing COVID-19’s long-term impact on cardiovascular health. With a growing number of people experiencing long COVID symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain, healthcare providers and researchers must work collaboratively to unravel the intricate relationship between COVID-19, cardiovascular disease, and lingering symptoms.
As the medical community grapples with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, studies like the one conducted by the WHF are instrumental in shaping clinical guidelines, improving patient care, and informing public health policies. Study follow-up will continue for 9-12 months after hospitalization and will foster a deeper understanding of the multifaceted challenges posed by COVID-19 and its far-reaching impact on global health.