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BackgroundPatients with a history of COVID-19 infection are reported to have cardiac abnormalities on cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) during convalescence. However, it is unclear whether these abnormalities were present during the acute COVID-19 illness and how they may evolve over time.MethodsWe prospectively recruited unvaccinated patients hospitalized with acute COVID-19 (n = 23), and compared them with matched outpatient controls without COVID-19 (n = 19) between May 2020 and May 2021. Only those without a past history of cardiac disease were recruited. We performed in-hospital CMR at a median of 3 days (IQR 1–7 days) after admission, and assessed cardiac function, edema and necrosis/fibrosis, using left and right ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF, RVEF), T1-mapping, T2 signal intensity ratio (T2SI), late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) and extracellular volume (ECV). Acute COVID-19 patients were invited for follow-up CMR and blood tests at 6 months.ResultsThe two cohorts were well matched in baseline clinical characteristics. Both had normal LVEF (62 ± 7 vs. 65 ± 6%), RVEF (60 ± 6 vs. 58 ± 6%), ECV (31 ± 3 vs. 31 ± 4%), and similar frequency of LGE abnormalities (16 vs. 14%; all p > 0.05). However, measures of acute myocardial edema (T1 and T2SI) were significantly higher in patients with acute COVID-19 when compared to controls (T1 = 1,217 ± 41 ms vs. 1,183 ± 22 ms; p = 0.002; T2SI = 1.48 ± 0.36 vs. 1.13 ± 0.09; p < 0.001). All COVID-19 patients who returned for follow up (n = 12) at 6 months had normal biventricular function, T1 and T2SI.ConclusionUnvaccinated patients hospitalized for acute COVID-19 demonstrated CMR imaging evidence of acute myocardial edema, which normalized at 6 months, while biventricular function and scar burden were similar when compared to controls. Acute COVID-19 appears to induce acute myocardial edema in some patients, which resolves in convalescence, without significant impact on biventricular structure and function in the acute and short-term. Further studies with larger numbers are needed to confirm these findings.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine


Frontiers Media SA

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