A mild case of COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of having a severe cardiovascular event like stroke or Heart failure within a year after infection. The study was published in Nature Medicine. The study was conducted by researchers at the Veterans Health Administration (VA) St. Louis Health Care System and Washington University.
St. Louis pulled data from patients at 1,255 health care facilities across the U.S. The authors zeroed in on 153,760 veterans who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and January 15, 2021. This survived at least 30 days after the infection. Then, they put together a comparison group of 5.6 million veterans from the same timeframe who didn’t test positive for COVID-19 and a second control group of more than 5.9 million people who sought VA care in 2017.
According to the CDC, there have been 77.1 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of February 9, 2022. More disconcertingly, the researchers found that people infected with COVID-19 faced a 72% higher risk of Heart failure, 63 % higher risk for a Heart attack, and 52 percent for a stroke, compared to those who didn’t test positive.
Notably, 99.7% of infected veterans studied were unvaccinated; therefore, the paper doesn’t address whether long-term cardiovascular problems occur after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people. This study adds to a body of evidence that Heart, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is not like the mild flu or cold. Instead, in many ways, it resembles a cardiovascular disease; as Salon previously reported, research from 2020 suggested that the coronavirus may be a blood vessel disease in addition to a respiratory infection.