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Icddr,b researches effects of asymptomatic Covid-19 in heart patients

  • Published at 09:59 pm May 4th, 2021
Jessore Antigen test Covid
File photo: A man undergoes antigen-based rapid testing to confirm Covid-19 infection. The photo was taken at Jessore General Hospital on Saturday, December 5, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

The study reportedly found a substantial rate of undiagnosed Sars-CoV-2 infection (Covid-19) in patients with heart attacks who would not have been routinely tested because they do not meet the WHO criteria for Covid-19 symptoms

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) have conducted research to determine the prevalence and three-month outcomes of Sars-CoV-2 infection in patients with myocardial infarction who are asymptomatic.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) hospital and Orebro University of Sweden on the Covid-19 patients who do not meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) clinical criteria for suspected Covid-19 cases (e.g. fever, cough, sneezing, etc).

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the United States, myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle.

Covid-19, caused by infection with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, is associated with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia which may ultimately lead to death. Most people who fall sick with Covid-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment.

Aside from the symptoms mentioned previously, the Covid-19 can be related to cardiac events such as coronary thrombosis and cardiac arrests.

The study in question, which has been reported on the icddr, b website, was conducted during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Bangladesh daily testing positivity rate was at a peak of around 20%.


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Between June to August 2020, the study enrolled 280 patients with myocardial infarction and between the ages of 23–95 at the NICVD. Of the total, 220 (79%) patients were male.

Among the 280 participants, asymptomatic Covid-19 positivity in patients was 13%. Furthermore, generalized weakness was found as the second most frequent reported symptom (47%) and was significantly more often among SARS-CoV-2 infected participants.

After three months, a slightly higher mortality was observed among Sars-CoV-2 positive patients compared with Sars-CoV-2 negative patients (14% vs 11%). Moreover, the proportion of recurrent MIs was numerically higher (5%) vs (3%) among Sars-CoV-2 negative participants.

The study reportedly found a substantial rate of undiagnosed Sars-CoV-2 infection (Covid-19) in patients with MI who would not have been routinely tested because they do not meet the WHO criteria for Covid-19 symptoms.  

The findings highlight the need for screening of all patients with myocardial infarction and adopting preventive measures for frontline healthcare workers, including cardiologists, to avoid spread of Covid-19 in hospital environments.