Follow-up assessments were performed at a median of 329 days after COVID-19 diagnosis. Although 20% of the cohort were asymptomatic at follow-up, 53% of subjects remained symptomatic, and an additional 5% of previously asymptomatic participants had developed new cardiac symptoms. Compared to men, women were more likely to experience continued cardiac symptoms with the most commonly reported being shortness of breath, palpitations, and chest pains. Shortness of breath was often related to an exaggerated tachycardic response and fatigue following exercise. Many participants also experienced some level of exercise intolerance; those most affected often refrained from leaving their homes due to the sudden onset of physical weakness, dizziness, or in rare cases, blackouts.
Although myocardial mapping values generally improved across the entire cohort, native T2 values remained higher in individuals with persistent cardiac symptoms. Participants who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 exhibited higher mapping measurements, increased pericardial involvement, and more non-ischemic scarring compared to controls. These findings suggest that cardiac inflammation may be shared among individuals with COVID-19, regardless of the presence of cardiac symptoms. Although the mechanisms responsible were not examined in this study, the patterns of cardiac symptoms identified may help guide future COVID-19 research.