Increased risk of heart rhythm disruption after COVID-19

Jan. 2, 2024
New study.

Individuals infected with COVID-19 are also at an increased risk of suffering from heart rhythm disturbances, such as atrial fibrillation. This is shown in a new study at Umeå University, Sweden.

The researchers were able to show that those who had been ill with COVID-19 could also suffer from heart rhythm disturbances, both in the form of so-called tachycardias, when the heart ha rate is high, and bradyarrhythmias, when the heart is slow so that a pacemaker is sometimes needed.  

The study shows that the risk of atrial fibrillation and flutter was increased up to two months after infection. In the first month, the risk was twelve times greater than for people who did not suffer from COVID-19 infection.

Even the risk of a specific subset of tachycardias, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardiaswas elevated up to 6 months after the infection and was five times greater in the first month. For the bradyarrhythmias, the risk was increased up to 14 days after the infection and was three times greater in the first month compared to subjects without COVID-19. Previous research in this area had not focused as much on which individuals are most at risk.

In the study, information from large national registers was cross-checked. All people who tested positive for the virus in Sweden from the start of the pandemic until May 2021 were included, but also a comparison group of individuals without a positive test for the virus. Over one million individuals with COVID-19 and over four million control individuals were included in this nationwide study.

Umeå University release on Newswise