Long Covid: the evidence of lingering heart damage

Cardiologists are finding that problems aren’t related to age or severity of infection

On 29 February, Melissa Vanier, a 52-year-old postal worker from Vancouver, had just returned from holiday in Cuba when she fell seriously ill with Covid-19. “For the entire month of March I felt like I had broken glass in my throat,” she says, describing a range of symptoms that included fever, migraines, extreme fatigue, memory loss and brain fog. “I had to sleep on my stomach because otherwise it felt like someone was strangling me.”

By the third week of March, Vanier had tested negative for Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19. But although the virus had left her body, this would prove to be just the beginning of her problems. In May, she noticed from her Fitbit that her heart rate appeared to be highly abnormal. When cardiologists conducted a nuclear stress test – a diagnostic tool that measures the blood flow to the heart – it showed she had ischaemic heart disease, meaning that the heart was not getting sufficient blood and oxygen.

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