The Core Lesson of the COVID-19 Heart Debate

September 22, 2020

(The Atlantic) – Autopsies have found traces of the coronavirus’s genetic material in the heart, and actual viral particles within the heart’s muscle cells. Experiments have found that SARS-CoV-2 can destroy lab-grown versions of those cells. Several studies have now shown that roughly 10 to 30 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had high levels of troponin—a protein released into the blood when the heart’s muscle cells are damaged. Such patients are more likely to die than others with no signs of heart injury. This is worrying for people with severe symptoms, but more recently, a few studies suggested that COVID-19 can cause heart inflammation, or myocarditis, even in people who showed mild symptoms, or had recovered. These results were controversial but concerning.