As evidence builds that COVID-19 can damage the heart, doctors are racing to understand it – Science Magazine

In Genoa, Italy, a recovered COVID-19 patient undergoes a test of heart function. MARCO DI LAURO/STRINGER/GETTY IMAGES

This fall, cardiologist Sam Mohiddin will embrace a new role—that of research subject. MRI scans of his heart at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where he works, will help answer a pressing question: Do people who suffered a mild or moderate bout of COVID-19 months ago, as he did, need to worry about their heart health?

Fears that COVID-19 can cause the cardiac inflammation called myocarditis have grown, as doctors report seeing previously healthy people whose COVID-19 experience is trailed by myocarditis-induced heart failure. Mohiddin recently treated 42-year-old Abul Kashem, who had typical COVID-19 symptoms in April, including loss of smell and mild shortness of breath. A month later, he fell critically ill from severe myocarditis. “I’m just grateful to be alive,” says Kashem, who spent more than 2 weeks in an intensive care unit. Why did this happen? he wonders.

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