Mild cases of Covid-19 can have long-term detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, according to new research.
A team of scientists including those from the University of Portsmouth were part of the study which compared pre- and post-Covid infection levels of arterial stiffness which can highlight ageing and how healthy the arteries are.
They found that in those who had been diagnosed with mild Covid, artery and central cardiovascular function were affected by the disease two to three months after infection.
Their report, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, suggests that side effects include stiffer and more dysfunctional arteries that could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.
“Usually, you’d expect inflammation to decrease with time after infection, and for all the physiological functions to go back to normal or a healthy level.
“We can only speculate on what causes this phenomenon without further investigation, but emerging evidence suggests that it stems from Covid-19 triggering the auto-immune process that leads to vasculature deterioration.”
Professor Ana Jeroncic, from the University of Split, who led the study, said: “Given the number of people infected with Covid-19 worldwide, the fact that infection can have harmful effects on cardiovascular health in young people who had a mild form of the disease warrants close monitoring.
“The question remains as to whether this harmful effect is irreversible or permanent, and if not, for how long it lasts.”
Dr Perissiou added: “This study, while small, does support the prediction amongst vascular physiologists that we’ll have an increase in cardiovascular disease in the future as a result of Covid-19 infections.
“But we have to consider what other variables would have contributed to this increase.”