(NewsNation) — COVID-19 can lead to increased rates of chest pain in patients six months to a year after infection, according to a new study.
According to a study from Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, even patients with mild COVID-19 infections can suffer from health complications for months, even years, post-infection.
Researchers from Intermountain Health studied nearly 150,000 patients for cardiovascular symptoms.
They found that patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had higher rates of chest pain in the six months to a year after the infection.
The results of the study were presented on March 5 at the American College of Cardiology’s 2023 Scientific Conference in New Orleans.
“Many COVID-19 patients experience symptoms well beyond the acute phase of infection,” said Dr. Heidi T. May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist and principal investigator of the study.
“While we didn’t see any significant rates of major events like heart attack or stroke in patients who had an initial mild initial infection,” May added, “we did find chest pains to be a persistent problem, which could be a sign of future cardiovascular complications.”
Researchers compared three groups of Intermountain Health patients.
The team found that at six months and one-year intervals, patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had significantly higher rates of experiencing chest pain, but saw no other increases in cardiovascular events.
“As of right now, the symptoms aren’t necessary translating into hard outcomes, but that’s something that will need to be reassessed over time,” May said.
Nearly 19% of U.S. adults who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 report having long COVID, where they experience signs and symptoms for four weeks or more after the initial phase of infection.
Chest pain is just one of the symptoms of long COVID. Other symptoms include brain fog, joint pain and extreme fatigue.
According to results from a clinical trial, COVID-19 patients who took the diabetes drug metformin for two weeks after a diagnosis were less likely to develop long COVID-19 symptoms.
“I think this is fascinating information,” said public health physician Dr. Chris T. Pernell during an appearance on “NewsNation Live.” “Because Metformin is a drug that is readily available, and it’s typically used to treat patients who have diabetes.”
Overall, people who took metformin were 42% less likely to develop long COVID-19 compared to people who got the placebo.
“Whatever we can do to prevent that mass debilitating event, which is long COVID, across this nation is going to be beneficial, and are continuing going forward,” Pernell said.
Pernell said metformin may help prevent long COVID-19 by reducing inflammation.
“Because it is reducing inflammation in the body,” she said, “it’s reducing those symptoms that can be associated with long COVID.”
The participants who received the two other drugs in the clinical trial, ivermectin and fluvoxamine, did not see any benefits in terms of preventing long COVID-19.
The Hill contributed to this report.