News: Risk of cardiovascular issues higher in patients with long COVID
Cardiovascular complications, such as pulmonary embolism, arterial and venous thromboses, myocardial infarction, and stroke, are found to be higher in patients with post-acute sequelae of SARC-CoV-2 (PASC), or “long COVID,” according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s (AAPM&R) consensus statement. Considering 5-29% of COVID-19 survivors report cardiovascular symptoms months after their recovery, this highlights the need for clinicians to have greater awareness of such conditions, MedPage Today reported.
AAPM&R released the consensus statement to help increase awareness as well as share collective knowledge from across medical fields so that providers are better able to identify long COVID. It recommends that physicians more vigilantly watch for cardiovascular problems and even cardiovascular disease caused by long COVID. Patients with no history of such complications in particular should be monitored.
The team behind the statement advised that healthcare professionals receive better education on the likelihood of developing long COVID, the expected systems versus the clinical red flags, and the heterogeneity of long COVID symptoms, to name a few. "I think the future will entail a state where we are talking about COVID as a risk factor," said lead author Jonathan Whiteson, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York City, in a press release for the statement. "If someone has had COVID, they may develop cardiovascular disease even in the absence of other risk factors, so look carefully and interpret symptoms cautiously because it's not something you want to miss."
Specific symptoms Whiteson and team noted are shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, abdominal bloating, leg swelling, and reduced tolerance for exercise or activity. They recommended taking a full patient history, noting the cardiac complaints, and making use of testing such as electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, cardiac stress tests, and standard lab tests. If the patient is experiencing severe complications (such as arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, ventricular dysfunction, etc.), it is recommended providers refer them to a specialist or a rehabilitation center.