Ireland’s largest prospective study on long Covid and heart health reveals high level of residual cardiac symptoms

Findings from Ireland’s largest prospective study on long Covid and heart health show a high number of participants presented with residual cardiac symptoms, but prevalence of lasting cardiac damage is low.

Ms Anne Henrichsen, Editor, MedMedia Group, Dublin

November 1, 2021

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  • The preliminary findings on the SETANTA study (Study of Heart Disease and Immunity after Covid-19 in Ireland), Ireland’s largest prospective study on long Covid and heart health, was presented at the Irish Cardiac Society’s 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting recently by researchers based at the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) Dublin at the Mater Private Network and the RSCI. The study prospectively recruited a total of 100 participants from GP surgeries in Dublin who had a recent history of Covid-19 infection. The participants underwent detailed state-of-the-art cardiac work up with cardiac MRI, ECG, heart-monitor, blood tests and provided their medical history. In the total cohort of 100 cases that participated in the CVRI Dublin-led SETANTA study, the mean age was 45 years and 64% were females. 60% had already received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine at presentation. Residual complaints, on average six months after acute Covid illness, were common.
    The most commonly reported Covid-19 specific symptoms were: fatigue/malaise (43% resolved, 43% persistent), myalgia (63% resolved, 11% persistent), headache (66% resolved, 22% persistent), fever (50% resolved, 3% persistent), productive/non-productive cough (49% resolved, 4% persistent), loss of sense of smell (32% resolved, 17% persistent), loss of sense of taste (31% resolved, 15% persistent), sore throat (29% resolved, 2% persistent), gastrointestinal disturbance (33% resolved, 6% persistent) and skin rashes (9% resolved, 1% persistent). Among new onset cardiac specific symptoms since index SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis, 62% reported shortness of breath, 54% palpitations, 53% dizziness/light headedness, 41% chest pain/heaviness and 4% syncope. Although a high proportion of the patients who participated in the study presented with residual symptoms, the good news is that initial findings provide reassurance that there is a low prevalence of lasting cardiac damage. While one in 10 patients showed some evidence of fluid collection around the heart, less than 3% showed evidence of significant heart scarring. It has been found that hospital settings are not always representative of a broad range of patient groups, thus an important aspect of the SETANTA study design was that patients were invited to participate in the study through their GPs in the community. This ensured that the study population was representative of the community.
    Severe symptoms were reported by 18%, moderate symptoms by 35%, with the balance reporting mild or no symptoms.
    The study also showcases the importance of collaboration between hospitals and primary care.The research was funded by the Mater Private Network and WomenAsOne, a US non-profit foundation to support female researchers.

    For more information about the trial visit: 

    © Medmedia Publications/Hospital Doctor of Ireland 2021