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Young Adults With COVID-19 May Have Long-Term Impacts on Blood Vessels, Heart Health

Participants of the study showed detrimental effects on arteries throughout their body, most notably the carotid artery.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the Appalachian State University have discovered that healthy, young adults who had an infection with COVID-19, were not hospitalized and had only minor symptoms may have long lasting impacts on their heart health and be at an increased risk for cardiovascular complications.

Results from the study were published in the journal Experimental Physiology.

While COVID-19 is known mostly as a respiratory disease, there have been an increasing amount of studies that have been highlighting changes in blood vessel functioning in young adults.

For the study, the team of investigators tested young adults 3 to 4 weeks after their initial infection with COVID-19. They conducted ultrasounds on the carotid arteries and also took recordings of the images for 10-15 heartbeats.

They then analyzed the recordings with a computer software in order to find measures of carotid stiffness.

Findings from the study showed that the otherwise healthy, young adults had detrimental effects on their arteries throughout their entire body, including the carotid artery, which is responsible for supplying the brain with blood.

The investigators will continue following these patients for an additional 6 months to observe if their arterial health improves.

They also plan for future research to study a more diverse patient population over an extended period of time, including older adults who may be more susceptible and have underlying conditions.

"These findings suggest a potential long-term impact of COVID-19 on young, relatively healthy adults who may otherwise think the virus may not be affecting them,” Steve Ratchford, a senior author on the study said.