Congenital heart defects may not increase severe Covid-19 risk: study

Adults and children born with heart defects had a lower than expected chance of developing moderate or severe symptoms of Covid-19, according to a new study which has warned that elderly patients with similar birth conditions may have a profile of different risk.

Scientists, including those at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, performed a retrospective analysis of more than 7,000 patients at the congenital heart center at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in the United States.

According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, only 53 congenital heart patients (43 adults and 10 children) – less than 0.8% of heart center patients – presented to their doctors with symptoms of new coronavirus infection from march to june.

Scientists said more than 80% (43) of these patients had mild symptoms, nine developed moderate to severe symptoms, and three patients died.

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“At the start of the pandemic, many feared that congenital heart disease was as important a risk factor for severe Covid-19 as cardiovascular disease in adulthood,” said study co-author Matthew Lewis.

“We were reassured by the low number of congenital heart patients who required hospitalization for Covid-19 and the relatively good outcomes for these patients,” Lewis said.

During the study period, scientists said that about 20% of people in the New York metropolitan area of ​​the United States were believed to have been infected with the coronavirus.

Researchers found that patients with a genetic syndrome and adults with advanced disease due to their congenital heart defect were more likely to develop moderate to severe symptoms, although the type of congenital heart defect of a individual does not affect the severity of symptoms.

Although the study sample is small, scientists believe that congenital heart disease alone may not be enough to increase the risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms.

Citing the limitations of the study’s findings, the researchers speculate that patients may have adhered more strictly to social distancing guidelines compared to the general population, given publicity about increased risk of Covid- 19 in patients with heart disease.

They cautioned that people with congenital heart disease should continue to practice strict social distancing and follow all CDC guidelines, as these measures likely contribute to the study results.

The younger average age (34 years) of these patients and a lower incidence of acquired cardiac risk factors compared to others with severe Covid-19 may explain why fewer congenital heart patients than expected had symptoms. serious, notes the study.

“It’s possible that elderly patients with congenital heart disease have a different risk profile than the general population,” said Brett Anderson, another study co-author from Columbia University.

“We still need to define what those risk factors are,” Anderson added.