The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can attack the heart and in some cases lead to myocarditis. Berlin DZHK scientists working with Dr. Franziska Seidel from the German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB) examined in a study if children are also affected in the same way. The test results suggest that children who did not have complaints about their heart even after symptomatic infection with the coronavirus did not develop any damage to the heart muscle due to inflammation or connective tissue deposits.
Using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers examined a total of 18 children between the ages of ten and 15 who recovered from mild COVID-19 disease between November 2020 and January 2021. During the infection, the test subjects suffered from mild symptoms such as tiredness, fever, respiratory problems, loss of smell and taste or diarrhea. The scientists compared the data with the MRI evaluations of a healthy control group (seven children between the ages of 10 and 19 with cases of heart muscle disease in the family without becoming ill) and nine myocarditis patients between four and 16 years of age from the register for children and adolescents with suspected myocarditis "MYKKE".
“None of the COVID-19 patients showed signs of myocarditis or impaired heart function in the MRI scan. The findings are comparable to those of the healthy control group, but they differ significantly from the findings of the myocarditis patients, ”says study director Dr. Franziska Seidel to summarize. Almost two thirds of the myocarditis patients examined suffered from a pericardial effusion, for example, in addition to impaired cardiac function and an enlargement of the left ventricle. A lot of fluid accumulates in the pericardium; as a result, the heart can no longer expand properly. In contrast, only three patients in the COVID-19 cohort had minimal pericardial effusion.
“Our research suggests that an infection with SARS-CoV-2 does not trigger myocarditis in children with a mild course of the disease and without heart problems. These patients therefore do not have to undergo a pediatric cardiological examination, an MRI examination is not necessary, ”says the study doctor at the Clinic for Congenital Heart Defects - Pediatric Cardiology at the DHZB.
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance findings in non-hospitalized pediatric patients after recovery from COVID-19 ”has now been published in the specialist journal ESC Heart Failure: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ehf2.13678
Source: Press release DHZB