Coronavirus causing long-term heart problems, even after recovery

JOPLIN, Mo. – One four-state woman issues a warning about a potentially serious Coronavirus complication. She says she’s developed heart problems after having the Coronavirus.

Shelly Dreyer is a local attorney and she recently recovered from the Coronavirus. At least, that’s what she thought until some mild chest pain she experienced while she had the virus, returned. “So I was very surprised, here I am almost two months from when I was diagnosed and still having these symptoms.”

Dreyer says she experienced the chest pains throughout her time with the Coronavirus, but brushed it off as nothing major at – first. “Then I noticed my pulse would start to be irregular and my heart would race, in working out my heart rate would get up to over 200, which is very unusual, and I would continue to have this chest pain.”

Dr. John Cox at the Freeman Heart Institute, says Dreyer isn’t alone. Doctor Cox says recent studies on the effects of COVID on the heart, are concerning. “They found, on the average, 71 days after the diagnosis, that 2/3rds had inflammatory markers on their MRI”

Dr. Cox says a recent study at Ohio State showed 15% of student athletes with mild COVID symptoms showed active inflammation of the heart, and 30% showed healing of inflammation of the heart. And that’s exactly what doctors have told Dreyer she has right now. Dreyer says “Currently my cardiologist thinks it’s inflammation and I’m to take it easy for about 30 days and then we’ll take it from there and see if that helps.”

Dr. Cox says it could take time before we know how expansive the heart issues could be. “We may not know the full extent of what’s going on here for months to years and people will show up late and say ‘oh yea, a couple of years ago I had COVID’ and now they have a heart problem that was created by the fact that they went back to intensive exercise too soon.”

Dreyer says she’s hopeful her story will encourage others to take the virus more seriously, especially if they test positive. “I just want to make sure people know that this isn’t the flu and perfectly healthy people could have long term effects from it.”

Dr. Cox says he recommends at least 30 days of ‘taking it easy’ once you enter the recovery phase from the Coronavirus.