Doctors warn COVID-19 can cause heart damage and failure in children

Doctors warn COVID-19 can cause heart damage and failure in children
Posted at 2:12 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 17:43:31-05

Doctors are warning that COVID-19 can affect childrens' hearts, causing damage and heart failure.

A 3-month-old was rushed to an emergency room after choking and turning blue while being fed. The baby had no typical signs of COVID-19 but underwent a series of tests - which is how doctors found out that the child was positive for the coronavirus. And that the virus led to heart damage that caused heart failure symptoms.

The infant needed fluid resuscitation and mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure. And despite how young this baby was, doctors obtained special approval to use remdesivir. That’s the anti-viral medication that was was recently approved by the FDA for patients who are typically 12 years and older. Now the good news, is that the child not only survived but has recovered with normal heart function.

So how did the doctors know that this was related to COVID and not something else, like an underlying health condition?

The doctors did an ECG, an electrocardiogram. And what this test does, is measure the activity of a heartbeat and it’s used to check for heart conditions. So the ECG showed myocardial injury related to the viral infection. Also, the doctors did other tests that ruled out other possible causes. And the child did not have any known underlying health conditions.

Was this similar to the heart-related issues that some adults with Covid-19 experience?

Yes, it is similar. Myocardial injury has been found to be common in COVID-19 patients. In fact, studies indicate that between 20% and 30% of adults who get sick may have heart problems. But here’s the bottom line…parents need to be aware that heart damage and failure can happen in children who get infected with the virus. And while it’s great news that in this case, the two-month old’s myocardial injury and heart failure was reversible, we have to keep in mind that we are still learning how this virus impacts people. So just because most children are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms when they’re infected with the coronavirus, doesn’t mean we can let them be lackadaisical with safety protocols like mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing. This case shows that some children can and do get seriously ill.

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Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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