The Heart: Before, During, & After Coronavirus

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Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly evolved into a public health crisis of global proportions, doctors and scientists embarked upon a real-time journey to uncover how the virus mercilessly attacks various parts of the body and what to do about it. While medical experts have been troubled by the respiratory virus’ tendency to wreak havoc on the lungs, perhaps more puzzling has been its relationship with the heart.

More than six months into the global pandemic, studies have shown that COVID-19 can not only exacerbate existing heart problems, but could also potentially cause new ones, causing experts to question whether the cardiac impacts of the virus may outlast the infection itself.

While not conclusive, case reports of long-term heart problems following COVID-19 infection are beginning to surface, including one from a New York City critical care physician who had mild symptoms of coronavirus but was later diagnosed with new heart disease.

"I started to feel like my heart was racing and I couldn’t run around like I always do and I had trouble catching my breath,” Dr. Janet Shapiro told NBC New York. It turned out she’d developed cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart struggles to pump blood to the rest of the body.

“What is clear is that we are still learning about this disease,” Dr. Shoeb Sitafalwalla, a cardiologist with Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois, told ABC News.

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