Anyone who has tested positive for Covid could be at higher risk of 20 different health conditions, a new study has warned.
The research, published in Nature Medicine, says that people who catch coronavirus are at risk of suffering a stroke, heart failure, blood clots and cardiac arrest, among other conditions, even if they don’t have severe symptoms.
Although the study suggests those who are hospitalised due to the virus are at an even higher risk of developing further health problems.
What did researchers find?
Researchers looked at data for more than 11 million US veterans, including 154,000 who had Covid, and estimated the risks within a year for 20 cardiovascular diseases.
Findings showed that those who had tested positive a year before were at significantly higher risk of the 20 conditions compared to those who had not been infected. The risk then increased the more serious their case was.
It was found that people who had Covid faced a 72% higher risk of heart failure after 12 months, while around 45 more people per 1,000 went on to develop any of the 20 conditions, compared to those uninfected.
Ziyad Al-Aly, the senior study author and chief of research at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, said.“We found an increased risk of cardiovascular problems in old people and in young people, in people with diabetes and without diabetes, in people with obesity and people without obesity, in people who smoked and who never smoked.
“What really worries me is that some of these conditions are chronic conditions that will literally scar people for a lifetime. It’s not like you wake up tomorrow and suddenly no longer have heart failure.”
Evelina Grayver, director of women’s heart health at Northwell Health in New York, who wasn’t involved with the study, told Fox News: “There were 20 cardiac disorders that were diagnosed for those patients that are suffering from long haul Covid. The most common is the shortness of breath and fatigue.
“The new arrhythmias, or the abnormal heart rhythms that people experience, are significant as well and can become incredibly handicapping for a lot of patients.”
What are the 20 conditions?
People who have tested positive for Covid are at higher risk of developing the following 20 cardiovascular conditions, according to the study:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Sinus tachycardia
- Sinus bradycardia
- Ventricular arrhythmias
- Atrial flutter
- Acute coronary disease
- Myocardial infarction
- Ischemic cardiomyopathy
- Heart failure
- Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy
- Cardiac arrest
- Cardiogenic shock
- Pulmonary embolism
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Superficial vein thrombosis
Do vaccines lessen the risk?
It is worth noting that the study does not show if coronavirus vaccines reduce the risk of developing the 20 conditions after testing positive, as the research period ended before jabs were available.
This means that almost all of the veterans assessed as part of the study had not received a single vaccine dose when they caught coronavirus.
Several studies have since shown that the Omicron variant of coronavirus is generally milder than other strains, particularly among those who have been vaccinated.
Health experts continue to say that vaccines offer the best form of protection against the virus, with recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showing that booster jabs significantly reduce the risk of death with Omicron.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA, said: “The evidence is clear – the vaccine helps to protect us all against the effects of Covid-19 and the booster is offering high levels of protection from hospitalisation and death in the most vulnerable members of our society.
“The pandemic is not over yet and the vaccine is the best way to increase your protection against the serious consequences of this virus – please book your appointment for your first, second or third vaccine without delay.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now recommended an additional spring booster dose for those who are most vulnerable to severe disease from coronavirus.
The fourth dose should be given around six months after the last vaccine and is being offered to adults aged 75 years and over, residents in a care home for older adults, and those aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed.