(HealthDay News) — The risk and 1-year burden of cardiovascular disease is considerable among survivors of acute COVID-19, according to a study published online in Nature Medicine.

Yan Xie, MPH, from the VA St. Louis Health Care System, and colleagues used national health care databases from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to build a cohort of 153,760 individuals with COVID-19 and 2 sets of controls (5,637,647 contemporary controls and 5,859,411 historical controls) to estimate the risks for prespecified incident cardiovascular outcomes.

The researchers found that beyond the first 30 days after infection, individuals with COVID-19 were at increased risk for incident cardiovascular disease, including cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and nonischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure, and thromboembolic disease. Individuals who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of COVID-19 also had these risks and burdens, which increased according to the care setting during the acute phase (nonhospitalized, hospitalized, and admitted to intensive care).

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“Our findings highlight the serious long-term cardiovascular consequences of having a COVID-19 infection and emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as a way to prevent heart damage; this also underscores the importance of increasing accessibility to the vaccines in countries with limited resources,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Governments and health systems around the world should be prepared to deal with the likely significant contribution of the COVID-19 pandemic to a rise in the burden of cardiovascular diseases.”

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