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People who get COVID pneumonia are also at risk for developing cardiomyopathy, or weakness of the heart muscle, says Dr. Nima Ghasemzadeh, an interventional cardiologist with Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS). NGHS is a major contributor to a registry of COVID patients across the U.S. and Canada who were also found to have acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), he says.

Using data from the registry, Ghasemzadeh and his colleagues examined how these patients did while they were in the hospital and how they did compared to their clinical counterparts who did not have COVID pneumonia.

Among the findings are that people with COVID pneumonia who are admitted to the hospital with a heart attack tended to have longer hospitalizations and longer ICU stays and were more likely to die in the hospital, according to Ghasemzadeh.

Doctors have also used data from the registry to create a scoring system that helps them identify patients who at higher risk of dying in the hospital so they can treat them earlier and more aggressively, Ghasemzadeh says.

“Because of the increased risk of developing an acute myocardial infarction, people with COVID pneumonia need to be vigilant about symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath and if they have any of those symptoms, or passing out spells, they need to seek medical attention,” says Ghasemzadeh.

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