Helios Heart Center Wuppertal: Research on post-COVID syndrome awarded a prize
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Helios Heart Center Wuppertal: Research on post-COVID syndrome awarded a prize

After a COVID-19 infection, many people find that they do not regain their fitness properly. Some notice heart palpitations or palpitations in addition to impaired performance. "Has the COVID-19 infection left its mark?" people wonder. An MRI of the heart, known as a cardio-MRI, is recommended in accordance with the international guidelines for cardiac medicine, particularly if myocarditis is suspected.

In cardio-MRI, the heart function and especially the heart muscle are precisely examined for disturbed or inflammatory changes without radiation exposure. Conversely, normal cardiac function can be demonstrated and pathological changes can be excluded. This was an important question even before the pandemic, in order to be able to rule out myocarditis in patients with a well-founded suspicion after an infection such as a severe cold.

Against the background of an ever-increasing number of patients with long-lasting post-COVID symptoms, the question of damage to the heart muscle is increasingly being put to the team of the Cardio-MRI at Helios University Hospital Wuppertal, which also includes the Director of Radiology, Prof. Patrick Haage, MD. So anyone who visits a cardiologist's or family doctor's office with persistent symptoms and suspected myocarditis will be referred to the Heart Center for a cardio-MRI if there are grounds for suspicion.

MRI can reveal minute changes in the heart after mild COVID course

PD Dr. Abanador-Kamper's research group is investigating whether changes in the heart muscle can be found in long-lasting symptoms after COVID-19 infection. In a study of 94 people who had undergone COVID-19 infection with a mild course, there were very subtle changes in cardiac function compared to healthy individuals. These changes in cardiac mechanics are detectable only by special procedures and even long after the infection. Whether these changes are permanent or only temporary will now be investigated in a follow-up study at the Helios Heart Center Wuppertal using cardio-MRI. For this purpose, the data of the patients examined at the Heart Center will be evaluated anonymously.

With these study results, the working group is making important contributions to post-COVID research. To date, there are still few data on patients with post-COVID or long-COVID symptoms. Therefore, intensive work is being done in this area to clarify some of the open questions around post-COVID.

Study awarded at congress

At the Leipzig "Kardiodiagnostiktage", the largest German congress for non-invasive cardiovascular imaging, the research results were honored in February 2023 as the "best submitted paper on the topic of post-COVID research". Funding from Witten/Herdecke University enabled a cardiologist to devote one year to this topic at the Heart Center. "The award is a great recognition for the entire research team at the Heart Center Wuppertal!", says Dr. Abanador-Kamper, rightly with a little pride.

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