Adults With Long COVID Have an Increased Risk of Heart Problems

Adults with post-COVID-19 condition (PCC), or long COVID, experience an augmented risk of developing a number of cardiovascular outcomes, including stroke, according to a recent study published in JAMA Health Forum.

This case-control study comprised of 13,435 adults with long COVID and 26,870 matched adults without COVID. To discern the link between long COVID and health outcomes, the investigators utilized national insurance claims data along with laboratory results and mortality data, which they obtained from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File and Datavant Flatiron data. The main outcomes of interest were stipulated as adverse outcomes, including cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes and mortality.

The results found that patients with PCC experienced increased health care use for a wide range of adverse outcomes including cardiac arrhythmias (relative risk [RR]=2.35; 95% CI, 2.26-2.45), pulmonary embolism (RR=3.64; 95% CI, 3.23-3.92), ischemic stroke (RR= 2.17; 95% CI, 1.98-2.52), coronary artery disease (RR=1.78; 95% CI, 1.70-1.88), heart failure (RR=1.97; 95% CI, 1.84-2.10), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (RR=1.94; 95% CI, 1.88-2.00), and asthma (RR=1.95; 95% CI, 1.86-2.03). Moreover, people with long COVID experienced increased mortality, as 2.8% of individuals with PCC vs 1.2% of controls died, implying an excess death rate of 16.4 per 1000 individuals, the investigators noted.

“This case-control study leveraged a large commercial insurance database and found increased rates of adverse outcomes over a 1-year period for a PCC cohort surviving the acute phase of illness. The results indicate a need for continued monitoring for at-risk individuals, particularly in the area of cardiovascular and pulmonary management,” the researchers concluded.