Three-Quarters of Recovered Coronavirus Patients in Germany Also Sustained Heart Damage, According to New Study

Two new studies, both done in Germany, have found that three-quarters of recovered coronavirus patients were left with structural changes to their hearts, even months after testing negative, PEOPLE reported.

Of the two studies done, one focused on recovered patients, while the other was on older victims of the virus. In the first study, published earlier this week in ‘JAMA Cardiology,’ researchers examined 100 cardiac MRIs from recovered COVID-19 patients between 45 and 53. They compared them to MRIs of people of similar ages who did not contract the virus. The findings revealed that 78 had structural changes to their hearts. Within that group, 76 had a biomarker that is typically found in patients who had a heart attack, and 60 had heart inflammation, called myocarditis.

“The patients and ourselves were both surprised by the intensity and prevalence of these findings, and that they were still very pronounced even though the original illness had been by then already a few weeks away,” said Dr. Valentina Puntmann, study co-author, consultant physician, cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist at University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany. It’s also important to note that most of the patients recovered at home. Of the 100 surveyed, 33 were hospitalized at some point in their illness. All the patients were considered to be “mostly healthy prior to their illness,” the researchers said.

Boston Red Sox pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez, announced Sunday that he won’t be playing in the upcoming MLB season just yet, due to his myocarditis. “It’s been hard, weird. First, I got the COVID, feel all the symptoms and everything, at some point, thinking that’s how bad it was the first four days. And then get here, and now that I have this, I was hoping that I get ready and go for the season as quick as I can. Now I’ve got to get a week off, wait for the results of the next MRI. I would say it’s been weird, really weird for me,” he told WEEI.

The second study, also published in ‘JAMA Cardiology,’ compared autopsy reports from 39 victims between the ages of 78 and 89 years-old, who died from Coronavirus at the start of the pandemic. Similar to the first study, researchers found that the virus had infected the heart of 41 percent of the patients. “We see signs of viral replication in those that are heavily infected,” Dirk Westermann, the studies other co-author and cardiologist at the University Heart and Vascular Centre in Hamburg, told Stat. “We don’t know the long-term consequences of the changes in gene expression yet. I know from other diseases that it’s obviously not good to have that increased level of inflammation.”

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