Mild, moderate COVID-19 may affect the cardiovascular system in young adults
Mild, moderate COVID-19 may affect the cardiovascular system in young adults

Mild, moderate COVID-19 may affect the cardiovascular system in young adults

Obesity and limited physical activity are key factors in recovery after COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases, even those that are mild to moderate in severity, can cause imbalances in the cardiovascular system in young adults without pre-existing diseases, according to researchers at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil.

The researchers found that obesity and limited physical activity are key factors in post-COVID-19 recovery, which alters the autonomic nervous system, affecting the regulation of functions such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.

“The results offer elements that should encourage even people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 to seek a more detailed diagnosis. The processes triggered by the virus can have consequences that the patient is not aware of,” says Fábio Santos de Lira , lead investigator, in a press release.

For the study, COVID-19 patients between the ages of 20 and 40 were recruited prior to vaccination in Presidente Prudente, which at the end of February had 39,049 confirmed COVID cases and 982 deaths due to the virus.

Patients were diagnosed by RT-PCR no more than 6 months earlier with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. The researchers compared the study population with a control group of age-matched healthy subjects. A total of 57 people were evaluated, of which 38 remained as a study sample after exclusions due to causes such as chronic illness, drug use and vaccination.

For the study, patients received an initial assessment that included an assessment of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels using a 3-axis accelerometer. The function of the autonomic nervous system was evaluated by measuring heart rate variability.

The investigators noted that post-COVID-19 showed patients increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system, lower activity of the parasympathetic nervous system and a decrease in the overall variability relative to the control group.

Among patients who are overweight or obese and less physically inactive, autonomic heart rate modulation was less effective. The researchers said these findings offer a new perspective on the role of BMI and physical activity on post-COVID-19 autonomic deregulation, which may contribute to a better understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of post-acute COVID-19 symptoms. according to the study authors.

“We did not expect such a changed cardiovascular system because they were young and had no other diseases. Our study shows that significant functional changes are possible in individuals who have had COVID, even without severe symptoms. This pulse variation, for example, could turn into an arrhythmia in the future, ”said co-author Luciele Guerra Minuzzi, a postdoctoral fellow at UNESP, in a press release.

Variations in heart rate were reflected in participants’ daily activities, such as the ability to perform physical exercises, climb stairs, and walk, with fatigue and weakness reported.

The researchers plan to further evaluate other results of the same tests among these patients, who will continue to be monitored after receiving their vaccinations. The next assessment will be performed in the 18th month after vaccination.


Even mild or moderate COVID-19 can affect the cardiovascular system in young adults, study shows. EurekAlert! March 15, 2022. Opened March 30, 2022.

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