Increased Risk of Heart Rhythm Disorder Found in Individuals Following COVID-19, Large-Scale Study Reveals

Increased Risk of Heart Rhythm Disorder Found in Individuals Following COVID-19, Large-Scale Study Reveals


A recent study conducted by researchers from Umeå University, Sweden, has revealed that individuals who have contracted COVID-19 are at an elevated risk of experiencing heart rhythm disturbances, including atrial fibrillation. Published in the European Heart Journal Open, this study is one of the largest of its kind globally.

The findings emphasize the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and the need for healthcare systems to identify individuals at heightened risk for such complications. This would enable timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment initiation. Leading cardiologist and first author of the study, Ioannis Katsoularis, stresses the significance of these measures.

Analysis of the data revealed that COVID-19 patients were susceptible to heart rhythm disturbances, which manifested as tachycardias (high heart rates) and bradyarrhythmias (slow heart rates leading to potential pacemaker necessity). The study demonstrated an increased risk of atrial fibrillation and flutter for up to two months post-infection. Within the first month, the risk was twelve times greater compared to individuals who had not contracted COVID-19.

Additionally, the study revealed that the risk of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, a specific subset of tachycardias, remained elevated for up to six months post-infection, with the risk being five times greater in the first month. In the case of bradyarrhythmias, the risk was heightened up to 14 days post-infection, and three times greater within the first month in comparison to subjects unaffected by COVID-19. Prior research in this domain had not given as much attention to identifying individuals with the greatest vulnerability.

Anne-Marie Fors Connolly, who leads the Umeå University research group responsible for the study, highlights that risks were particularly elevated among older individuals, those with severe forms of COVID-19, and during the first wave of the pandemic. Furthermore, the study revealed that unvaccinated individuals faced a higher risk than those who were vaccinated. The severity of the infection emerged as the most significant risk factor.

The study drew information from expansive national registries, cross-referencing data. All individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in Sweden from the beginning of the pandemic until May 2021 were included, along with a control group comprising individuals who did not test positive for the virus.

This nationwide study encompassed over 1 million individuals with COVID-19 and more than 4 million control individuals, making it one of the largest studies of its kind worldwide. Previously, researchers from Umeå University demonstrated that COVID-19 increased the risk of blood clots, myocardial infarction, and stroke.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it