In a groundbreaking new study, participants’ vascular stiffness was compared before and after they contracted COVID-19.
This study is the first to compare arterial stiffness levels before and after infection with the virus, a factor that is directly related to how well our arteries function and aging.
A COVID infection’s lasting consequences, also known as protracted COVID, are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and, in extreme cases, even death.
Using baseline measurements from a set of people in a different study that started before the pandemic and looked at arterial stiffness as well, an international group of researchers was able to conduct this research.
Two to three months after infection, patients with mild COVID had symptoms including changes in their arterial and central cardiovascular function.
As a side effect, arteries may become stiffer and less functioning, which may result in the development of cardiovascular disease.
Age and the duration of the COVID infection are linked to faster artery aging, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
Co-author, Dr Maria Perissiou stated that “We were surprised to observe such a decline in vascular health, which deteriorated even further with time since COVID-19 infection. Usually, you’d expect inflammation to decrease with time after infection, and for all the physiological functions to go back to normal or a healthy level. We can only speculate on what causes this phenomenon without further investigation, but emerging evidence suggests that it stems from COVID-19 triggering the auto-immune process that leads to vasculature deterioration.”
Although COVID has been linked to a specific form of severe heart failure and vascular dysfunction, further research is still needed to determine how the condition may affect vascular health in the long run.
The lab kept tabs on participants between October of 2019 and April of 2022.
The majority were healthy young people, under the age of 40. No one had excessive cholesterol, and only 9% of the sample had high blood pressure.
Two people had diabetes, and 78% did not smoke.
The proportion of males (56%) and females (44%) in the group was likewise nearly equal.
The leader of the research, Professor Ana Jeroncic, explained that “Given the number of people infected with COVID-19 worldwide, the fact that infection can have harmful effects on cardiovascular health in young people who had a mild form of the disease warrants close monitoring. The question remains as to whether this harmful effect is irreversible or permanent, and if not, for how long it lasts.”
“This study, while small, does support the prediction amongst vascular physiologists that we’ll have an increase in cardiovascular disease in the future as a result of COVID-19 infections. But we have to consider what other variables would have contributed to this increase,” Dr. Perissiou went on to add.
The findings might be used to inform preventive and treatment plans for related vascular disease, according to the paper’s conclusion.
The findings have lasting value for understanding the long-term cardiovascular effects of COVID infection.
However, it requires more studies to improve comprehension of the root causes and contributing elements.