The designation of post COVID syndrome, also known as long COVID refers to patients with a variety of symptoms following recovery from an acute COVID 19 infection. Persistent shortness of breath with exertion continues to be a very common complaint many months following a COVID 19 infection. Impairment of lung function is not the only organ of concern. Next to the lungs, the heart is the most common organ to be involved with COVID 19 and long COVID symptoms.
Rapid heart beating, medically referred to as tachycardia, is a commonly reported complaint following and acute COVID 19 infection. Investigations suggest that about 9% of long COVID patients report palpitations at six months following recovery. Additionally, a specific type of tachycardia, called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), along with other types of tachycardia, are often being diagnosed. POTS may be present if the patient has tachycardia associated with standing. Other symptoms may include vertigo, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Long standing symptoms of COVID 19 are most often seen in patients who have had severe disease. However, long COVID may be seen in patients with minor disease symptoms as well. In the case of proven tachycardia, or in patients with POTS, treatment is available, but patients with these symptoms deserve a complete cardiology workup to rule out other causes of their symptoms.
I encourage anyone who has survived a COVID 19 infection, especially if you were sick enough to be hospitalized, not to ignore any persistent cardiac or pulmonary symptoms.