More than three-quarters of recently recovered Covid-19 patients had heart muscle problems show up during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, German doctors reported on Monday in JAMA Cardiology.
In some patients, the heart may be “in serious trouble as a part of Covid-19 disease,” Dr Valentina Puntmann of University Hospital Frankfurt said. Among 100 patients ages 45 to 53, “a considerable majority” - 78 - had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining. Sixty-seven had recovered at home while 33 had required hospitalization.
Half of the former patients were more than two months out since their diagnosis at the time of the MRI. Thirty-six patients reported ongoing shortness of breath and general exhaustion, and 71 had blood markers of heart muscle damage. Compared with similar people who had not had Covid-19, the recently recovered patients’ hearts pumped more weakly and displayed other risk factors for heart failure.
Puntmann suspects the abnormalities are signs of permanent problems. “While we do not have direct evidence for late consequences yet, such as the development of heart failure ... it is quite possible that in a few years, this burden will be enormous based on what we have learned from other viral conditions that similarly affect the heart,” she said.
Do-it-yourself masks should have several layers
Do-it-yourself face masks are far more effective at blocking virus-containing droplets if they are made with two or three layers of fabric, researchers advised in the journal Thorax. Using high-speed video and special lighting, they saw that when masks have multiple layers, fewer droplets generated by speaking, coughing and sneezing escape, and droplets that do escape do not spread as far.
There is a trade-off between protection and breathability as the number of layers increases, but “three layers is quite comfortable,” study co-author Raina MacIntyre of UNSW Sydney, in Australia, told Reuters.
For their experiments, her team compared masks made from a single or double layer of T-shirt fabric, which had a thread count of 170/inch. They also tested a surgical mask. Freeze frames from the video showed that while the surgical mask was most effective, the two-ply cloth mask did a fairly good job at limiting the distance droplets traveled. Even the one-ply mask was helpful.
“The effectiveness of a mask depends on several factors other than filtration, which is what we tested,” MacIntyre added. “For example, the outer layer should be made of a water-resistant fabric such as polyester,” she said. “It is also best to use fabrics with high thread count and fine weave.”