Study Results Link COVID-19 to Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Death

Individuals with the virus had an 81 times higher risk of dying in the first 3 weeks of infection, and that remained 5 times higher for up to 18 months, analysis shows.

COVID-19 is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death in short- and long-term, according to the results of a study published in Cardiovascular Research, the journal of the European Society of Cardiology.

Compared with individuals who were not infected, investigators found that those infected with COVID-19 had an 81 times higher risk of dying in the first 3 weeks of infection, and it remained 5 times higher up to 18 months later.

“COVID-19 patients were more likely to develop numerous cardiovascular conditions compared to uninfected participants, which may have contributed to their higher risks of death,” Ian Wong, PhD, professor at the University of Hong Kong in China, said in a statement. “The findings indicate that patients with COVID-19 should be monitored for at least a year after recovering from the acute illness to diagnose cardiovascular complications of the infection, which form part of long COVID.”

Investigators compared the occurrence of cardiovascular conditions and death between those who were infected and those who were not. They recruited more than 7500 individuals with COVID-19 who were diagnosed between March 16, 2020, and November 30, 2020, using the UK Biobank. The study took place before vaccines were available in the United Kingdom, so all individuals were not vaccinated at the time of data collection.

The individuals were matched with up to 10 individuals who did not have COVID-19 during the study period, which was from March 16, 2020, to August 31, 2021, as well as other individuals before the pandemic, from March 16, 2018, to November 30, 2018.

Each group of individuals who were not infected included more than 70,000 individuals who were like the COVID-19 group in age, body mass index, cardiovascular and other health conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, sex, smoking, and other factors.

“This study was conducted during the first wave of the pandemic, and future research should evaluate subsequent outbreaks. Previous research has indicated that COVID-19 vaccination may prevent complications, and further studies are needed to investigate its effectiveness in reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease and death after COVID-19 infection in patients with COVID-19 vaccination compared to those without vaccination,” Wong said.

Investigators obtained medical and death records for outcomes, including atrial fibrillation, composite heart failure, coronary heart disease, death from cardiovascular disease, death from any cause, myocardial infarction, and stroke.

They evaluated associations for the acute phase, which was within 21 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis, and the post-acute phase, which was 22 days after diagnosis continuing up to 18 months.

Compared with the 2 uninfected cohorts, investigators found that individuals with COVID-19 were approximately 4 times more likely to develop major CVD in the acute phase and 40% more likely in the post-acute phase.

Additionally, individuals with severe COVID-19 were more likely to develop major CVD or die than individuals with non-severe COVID-19.


COVID-19 patients retain elevated risk of death for at least 18 months after infection. EurekAlert. News release. January 18, 2023. Accessed January 20, 2023.

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