THURSDAY, Dec. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Patients with persistent dyspnea one year after recovery from the acute phase of COVID-19 may have abnormal heart function, according to a study presented at EuroEcho 2021, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology, held from Dec. 9 to 11 in Berlin.

Maria-Luiza Luchian, M.D., from the University Hospital of Brussels, and colleagues examined the presence of persistent dyspnea one year after the acute phase of COVID-19. A total of 143 recovered patients were followed up with clinical evaluation and spirometry at six months, and chest computed tomography and comprehensive transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) at 12 months. The analyses included 66 patients without previous cardiovascular or pulmonary disease.

The researchers found that TTE parameters were in the normal range for these patients, including mean left ejection fraction (56.98 ± 4.64 percent), mean global longitudinal strain (GLS: −20.90 ± 2.37 percent), global constructive work (GCW: 2,381.45 ± 463.68 mm Hg percent), and global work index (GWI: 2,132.49 ± 419.22). At one-year follow-up, 34.8 percent of the patients (23 patients) reported exertional dyspnea. Patients with and without dyspnea exhibited no significant differences regarding clinical, laboratory, or imaging findings at baseline. However, GLS, GCW, and GWI were significantly different between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. GCW, GWI, and normal respiratory pattern at six months were inversely associated with persistent dyspnea in a multivariable analysis (odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 0.998 [0.996 to 1.000], 0.998 [0.996 to 1.000], and 0.195 [0.049 to 0.773], respectively).

“Myocardial work could be a new echocardiographic tool for early identification of heart function abnormalities in patients with long COVID-19, who might need more frequent and long-term cardiac surveillance,” Luchian said in a statement.

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