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AdventHealth Doctors Say COVID-19 Survivors Need to Monitor Heart, Lung Health After Recovery

Photo: Jozcef Hocza
Photo: Jozcef Hocza

At a press conference today, AdventHealth doctors said COVID-19 patients might be at a higher risk of heart failure and long-term breathing problems.

Early evidence shows previously healthy people in their 40s can show ongoing inflammation and muscle damage to the heart 6 to 8 weeks after recovery.

AdventHealth’s Dr. Scott Silvestry says it’s still not clear whether this can contribute to post-infection residual heart disease and failure. 

“But some of the early information suggests that there will be a certain percentage of patients who've had COVID who will go on to develop premature heart disease, heart failure and require treatment.”

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Silvestry says people can improve heart health outcomes regardless of whether they have a family history of heart disease by exercising, eating healthy and not smoking. 

Some survivors may also suffer from long-term breathing problems. AdventHealth's Dr. Duane Davis said these patients might benefit from techniques used to manage anxiety disorders. 

Davis said chronic lung disease patients, for example, might build up their lung muscles using different exercises.

But he said they also focus on managing the anxiety they feel around shortness of breath.

“Many individuals who have had COVID and have recovered will have persistence of shortness of breath and if they become very anxious about it it actually will have a very negative impact in how they are recovering. It will prevent them from doing activity, and the last thing you want to do as you're recovering from this illness is to stop having physical activity.”

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Davis said patients with asthma and other breathing problems should continue to take their inhalers and avoid environmental triggers like smoke to improve health outcomes.

If you'd like to listen to this story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.