Intermountain Healthcare Research: Clear Link Between COVID-19 & Heart Disease

Aug 18, 2020, 6:55 PM | Updated: 9:03 pm

MURRAY, Utah – Researchers at Intermountain Healthcare said there is growing evidence of a link between heart disease and COVID-19 after examining several published studies.

We’ve known since COVID-19 emerged that the virus can do severe damage to the lungs. Now, there is mounting evidence that COVID-19 also damages the heart, raising concerns for any patient with the virus.

“There’s clear evidence that COVID-19 can cause heart disease,” said Dr. Kirk Knowlton, director of cardiovascular research at Intermountain Healthcare. “The virus can infect the heart itself and can also stimulate clotting. It does not affect all patients, but affects around one in five patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.”

COVID-19 and Heart Disease with Dr. Kirk Knowlton

Dr. Kirk Knowlton, director of cardiovascular research and chair of cardiovascular department at Intermountain Medical Center to talk about heart disease and COVID-19

Posted by Intermountain Healthcare on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

He examined more than 100 published studies related to COVID-19 and its effects on the heart. He found many COVID-19 patients also suffer significant cardiovascular damage that might continue after they have otherwise recovered.

“When they had heart disease, their prognosis was much worse,” said Knowlton. “They had a many-fold higher rate of being intubated, or even of dying from COVID-19 if they had heart disease.”

If there was no evidence of heart disease, they had a better chance of surviving, according to his research.

“The virus, the inflammation, clotting — something is causing heart damage, even during the acute illness,” the doctor said.

The studies showed damage either caused by the virus itself, from inflammation triggered by the immune system’s response to the virus or from increased clotting in heart vessels.

One study showed structural damage to the heart in more than half of COVID-19 patients examined.

“I’d hate to think that half of everyone that has COVID-19 is going to end up with some myocardial damage,” said Knowlton. “In the long run, we don’t know, a year from now, what that will look like, whether they will perfectly recover or not.”

There is also evidence that heart damage may be long-lasting, in some cases.

Leaders from the NCAA’s Pac-12 conference cited COVID-19 related heart inflammation when postponing fall sports.

That’s after at least 10 football players developed heart inflammation after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Knowlton said this raises new concerns for young people who have not necessarily been as heavily impacted by COVID-19.

If COVID-19 is creating long-term damage in hearts, health officials said everyone should be cautious and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It gives us cause for pause to think about the importance of preventing the disease,” said Knowlton.

Right now, researchers just don’t know how often the heart damage will occur and whether it can affect people with mild symptoms.

The prospectus review of the studies is published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
2 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
13 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
20 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

US clears updated COVID boosters targeting newest variants

U.S. clears updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the newest omicron strain; shots could begin within days.
28 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Updated COVID-19 boosters likely available next month as ‘twindemic’ fears emerge

Concerns about a potential surge in COVID-19 and the flu at the same time this fall are emerging again. Each of the last two years, warnings about a so-called “twindemic” did not materialize, but this year could be different.
1 month ago
FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Intermountain Healthcare Research: Clear Link Between COVID-19 & Heart Disease