According to Hackensack Meridian Health, researchers have determined at least two ways that the COVID-19 virus affects the heart.
Infection with the COVID-19 virus has been shown to exacerbate preexisting heart conditions, which is one reason why public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have continued to emphasize the importance of preventive measures like wearing masks and social distancing.
In addition, COVID-19 can directly cause myocarditis. The Myocarditis Foundation says myocarditis is a disease that causes inflammation of the heart muscle, which can enlarge and weaken the heart. Myocarditis can create scar tissue that forces the heart to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body. Initial studies into the link between COVID-19 and myocarditis suggested that the disease was very common among middle-aged adults who had been diagnosed with the virus, though more recent research has refuted that.
A study published in October in the journal Cardiovascular Pathology found that the true prevalence of myocarditis in COVID-19 patients was less than 2%. Though that’s good news, researchers behind the study note that, in the months and years to come, there is still much to be learned about the effects of COVID-19 on the heart.