WEDNESDAY, Jan. 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A rare and serious inflammatory condition called MIS-C can strike kids weeks after they’ve recovered from their COVID infection.
But now there’s good news for parents: Children tend to recover completely from any heart injury within three months of falling ill, a new study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) shows.
“Although it can be quite serious and very, very rarely even fatal, the vast majority of kids recover,” said Dr. Kevin Friedman, a pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital who was not involved in the study. “Their hearts recover. Recovery is pretty much the norm, over time.”
Early in the pandemic, doctors found that COVID-infected children sometimes fall prey to a delayed side effect called MIS-C (multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children).
Children typically develop MIS-C about four to six weeks after their COVID infection. The syndrome causes profound inflammation throughout the body that affects the major organs.
MIS-C happens in 1 of every 3,000 COVID patients, said Dr. Pei-Ni Jone, a pediatric cardiologist with Children’s Hospital Colorado. Jone also is researching the heart effects of MIS-C, but was not involved in the new study.
In more than 4 of 5 MIS-C cases, the heart is one of the organs affected by this inflammation, the CHOP researchers said in background notes.
“The heart is the organ that’s affected the most” by MIS-C, Jone said, noting that decreased heart function can sometimes lead to kidney or liver injury as well.
Half of children with MIS-C suffer from decreased function of their left ventricle, the heart chamber that pumps oxygenated blood out to the body.
“The symptoms can be anything from none to severely low blood pressures and a very sick child who’s in an ICU needing a breathing tube and heart medicines to support their heart,” Friedman said.
To see whether these kids recover, the CHOP doctors compared 60 children hospitalized with COVID-related MIS-C to a group of 60 healthy kids.
EKG readings showed that heart function in the MIS-C children improved quickly within the first week. By three months, they were essentially back to normal. MRIs taken of several kids revealed no lasting scarring or damage to their hearts.