Medical

Doctors suspect a COVID-19 side effect is biggest predictor of death

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – COVID-19 affects the kidneys, the brain and the heart. But now doctors are seeing a specific part of the heart that is being affected more so than others. And patients found with this condition, researchers say, are more likely to die.

The condition is called right ventricular hypertrophy. This means the right ventricle, one of the four chambers of the heart, is getting bigger.

When this heart chamber is enlarged, a person can’t get enough oxygen, causing a shortage. A person also cannot get rid of carbon dioxide at the rate it needs to be eliminated from the body. Too much carbon dioxide build up can be just as dangerous as not getting enough oxygen. Thus the danger when this part of the heart–as a result of hypertrophy–can’t do its job.

Doctors from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City assessed 105 COVID-19 patients both with and without right ventricle enlargement using an echocardiogram. Forty-one percent of the people with the condition died compared to the 11% who died and did not have the condition. They determined right ventricle hypertrophy is one of the biggest predictors of death in COVID-19 patients.

The paper has been accepted for publication by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, but is not available just yet.

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