Young adults may have cardiovascular problems after Covid-19: Study

Ground Report | New Delhi: Problems after Covid-19; A study by Paulista state university, published in the  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, showed that mild or moderate cases of Covid-19 can unbalance the cardiovascular system of young adults who did not have heart disease before infection. According to the research, volunteers who had the disease showed changes in heart rate at rest, which can trigger cardiovascular problems.

The study is part of the FIT-COVID project, which aims to increase scientific knowledge about Covid-19 and its impacts on the immune, metabolic and psychobiological system, responsible for sleep and cognitive function, in addition to the effects of physical activities and body composition. in the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.

In the research, 40 people participated, including men and women between 20 and 40 years old, from Presidente Prudente, a city in the interior of São Paulo, without previous diseases and not vaccinated. The group was divided equally between those who had mild or moderate cases of Covid-19 and those who did not have Covid-19. “We chose to evaluate young people who do not have preexisting diseases, because they are healthier and have mild or moderate symptoms, rather than severe ones”, says Fábio Lira, coordinator of FIT-COVID and professor at the Department of Physical Education at Unesp.

According to Lira, the study will follow these people for about 18 months. The first information was collected before the participants were vaccinated and recently, the researchers collected data again after the volunteers received the two doses of the vaccine and the additional one, which are under analysis. The next one should take place in a year.

According to Lira, so far, the study shows that, although they do not have severe cases of Covid-19 and pre-existing diseases, these young adult patients had altered lung function and cardiovascular system. Undergoing cardiological examinations, the researchers observed important changes in resting heart rate, much higher in those who had been infected. The study also points to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle as determining factors after the disease: among overweight and sedentary people, the effects of the infection were exacerbated. “In this research, body fat and sedentary lifestyle also potentiate the harmful effects of Covid”, says Lira. (Autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning was assessed by measuring heart rate variability.)

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The study was part of a larger project called Fit-COVID, which aims to explain some of the gaps in scientific knowledge about the natural history of the disease with a specific focus on immune, inflammatory and metabolic markers, in parallel with an assessment of the time-related modulatory effects of physical activity and body composition.

The researchers recruited COVID patients in Presidente Prudente, a city in the interior of the state of São Paulo with about 232,000 inhabitants. As of the end of February 2022, it had 39,049 confirmed cases and 982 deaths from the disease.

The participants had been diagnosed by RT-PCR no more than six months earlier and had mild to moderate symptoms of COVID. A control group comprised healthy age-matched subjects. A total of 57 people were evaluated, leaving 38 as a study sample after exclusions due to chronic illness, drug use and vaccination, among other reasons.

They underwent a baseline assessment that included body mass index (BMI, the ratio of weight to height squared, used to determine overweight and obesity) and physical activity measurement using a three-dimensional accelerometer. Autonomic nervous system (ANS) function was assessed by measuring heart rate variability.

The main finding was that post-COVID patients, even with mild to moderate symptoms, showed increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system (a division of the ANS that regulates the response to danger, intense exertion, and stress), decreased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (the other division of the ANS, responsible for rest functions, digestion, and energy conservation), and lower overall variability than the control group. In other words, the heart rate was higher and the body did less to mitigate this in post-COVID patients.

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