Coronavirus-related illness in children can cause long-term heart damage, study warns

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A newly identified disease that occurs in children and is linked to Covid-19 can cause severe long-term heart damage, a new study has warned.

Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio found that young patients with acute paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) had heart damage to such an extent that some will need lifelong monitoring.

Dr Alvaro Moreira, who led the study, said: “This is a new childhood disease that is believed to be associated with SARS-CoV-2.

“It can be lethal because it affects multiple organ systems. Whether it be the heart and the lungs, the gastrointestinal system or the neurologic system, it has so many different faces that initially it was challenging for clinicians to understand.”

In the study, the researchers reviewed 662 cases reported worldwide from January 1 to July 25.

The analysis revealed that most of the 662 children suffered heart problems, indicated by markers such as troponin, which is used to diagnose heart attacks in adults.

Dr Moreira said: “Almost 90% of the children (581) underwent an echocardiogram because they had such a significant cardiac manifestation of the disease.”

The heart problems included dilation of coronary blood vessels, a reduced ability for the heart to pump oxygenated blood around the body, and even aneurysms in 10% of cases.

Dr Moreira said: “These are children who are going to require significant observation and follow-up with multiple ultrasounds to see if this is going to resolve or if this is something they will have for the rest of their lives.

“And that’s catastrophic to a parent who had a previously healthy child and then he/she is in the very small percentage of individuals who developed MIS-C after COVID-19 infection.”

Delving deeper into the findings, the researchers discovered children with underlying health conditions, or those who were obese or overweight were at higher risk of PIMS-TS.

Dr Moreira added: “Generally, in both adults and children, we are seeing that patients who are obese will have a worse outcome.”

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