Study: Most COVID survivors had cardiac involvement nearly 1 year later
A study of 346 previously healthy COVID-19 survivors finds that 73% had cardiac signs and symptoms more than 3 months after infection, and 57% still had them at nearly 1 year.
In the study, published yesterday in Nature Medicine, a team led by University Hospital Frankfurt researchers in Germany measured blood biomarkers of heart injury and dysfunction and performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 346 COVID-19 survivors who had no previous heart disease or notable chronic conditions at a median of 109 and 329 days.
The first screening took place from April 2020 to October 2021. Average participant age was 43.3 years, and 52% were women. A total of 144 participants (42%) received mRNA COVID-19 vaccination from baseline to follow-up, but the effects of vaccination weren't systematically assessed.
At 109 days, 73% of participants noted cardiac symptoms such as shortness of breath during exertion (62%), palpitations (28%), chest pain (27%), and fainting (3%). Participants who had symptomatic COVID-19 infections had higher heart rates and signs of heart inflammation on MRI than asymptomatic patients, but structural heart disease and biomarkers of heart injury or dysfunction were rare in symptomatic patients.
Of all participants, 38% had mild cardiac symptoms, while 33% reported moderate symptoms, and 3% had severe symptoms that resulted in the inability to leave home owing to sudden general weakness, dizziness, and blackouts.
At a median of 329 days, 57% of participants reported cardiac symptoms, including 5% who developed new cardiac symptoms since baseline. Those reporting cardiac symptoms had more evidence of diffuse myocardial edema than those without cardiac symptoms. Women were significantly more likely than men to have lingering cardiac symptoms (67% vs 46%).
"Ongoing inflammatory cardiac involvement may, at least in part, explain the lingering cardiac symptoms in previously well individuals with mild initial COVID-19 illness," the researchers wrote.
Sep 5 Nat Med study
Mobile app detects COVID-19 infection in people's voices
A mobile smartphone app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to accurately detect COVID-19 infections in people's voices, according to research presented this week at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The developers of the app said the program detected infections with more accuracy than lateral flow or rapid antigen tests, and is cheaper than a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The app was accurate in detecting infection 89% of the time.
"These promising results suggest that simple voice recordings and fine-tuned AI algorithms can potentially achieve high precision in determining which patients have COVID-19 infection," said Wafaa Aljbawi, a researcher at the Institute of Data Science, Maastricht University, the Netherlands, in a European Lung Foundation press release. "Such tests can be provided at no cost and are simple to interpret. Moreover, they enable remote, virtual testing and have a turnaround time of less than a minute."
The researchers used different artificial intelligence models to classify voices, patterns of speech, power, and variation over time in audio samples collected by the University of Cambridge, which included recordings from 4,352 healthy and non-healthy participants, 308 of whom had tested positive for COVID-19.
Participants provided several audio samples, which included coughing, reading a short sentence, and breathing deeply through the mouth.
The best performing model was called the Long-Short Term Memory (LSTM). Using that model, researchers were able to correctly identify true positives 89% of the times, and true negatives 83% of the time.
Lateral flow tests, or home rapid antigen tests, have a sensitivity of only 56%, Aljbawi said, which means more true positives may be missed.
Sep 4 European Lung Foundation press release
US BA.5 dominance still high; pharmacies begin receiving booster updates
The Omicron BA.5 SARS-CoV-2 subvariant predominance remained high last week, making up 88.6% of sequenced samples, down just a hair from 88.7% last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its latest update.
Meanwhile, over the past week the proportion of the BA.4.6 Omicron subvariant rose from 7.5% to 8.4% of samples. The proportions of BA.4.6 are still highest in the southern tier of Midwestern states, where it accounts for 17.8% of samples.
The 7-day average for new daily cases continues to decline, and at 77,316 is at its lowest level since early May, according to the Washington Post tracker, which said cases over the past week are down 12%, with a 9% decline in hospitalizations. Deaths remain steady.
In the wake of last week's emergency use approval of and recommendation for updated boosters from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, two of the nation's major pharmacy chains—Walgreens and CVS—announced that customers can book online appointments as they begin receiving their supplies.
In international developments, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) today issued guidance on the use of updated COVID boosters, which urges that people at higher risk of complications be prioritized, including those age 60 and older, those who have weakened immune systems, and people with underlying health conditions.
Elsewhere, cities in China are still battling rises in local COVID activity, with Shenzhen ending a brief lockdown and officials in Chengdu extending its lockdown, according to Reuters.
Sep 6 CDC variant proportions
Washington Post COVID tracker
Sep 2 Walgreens press release
Sep 2 CVS press release
Sep 5 Reuters story on China's COVID measures