A heart attack after COVID-19 can happen in any person. Even people with mild cases without conditions predisposing them to heart disease are at a higher risk. However, the likelihood of a heart attack increases with the severity of the infection.

A 2022 study published in Nature Medicine showed that those with COVID-19 were at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Evidence indicates that up to 1.3% of individuals with COVID-19 experience a heart attack.

One of the factors that may underlie the link involves the inflammation that COVID-19 causes. This may increase the accumulation of fatty plaque inside arteries and can also lead to the formation of clots inside the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks.

This article discusses the incidence and causes of a heart attack after COVID-19, as well as signs that suggest heart damage has occurred. It also examines heart problems in children after COVID-19, signs of a heart attack, and recovery after COVID-19.

Coronavirus data

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

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Research involving more than 150,000 people with COVID-19 found that the infection can increase the risk of a heart attack. It may also raise the likelihood of other disorders of the heart and blood vessels, such as:

The higher risks were apparent regardless of the following:

Additionally, the risks were higher even in individuals who did not have any cardiovascular disease before they developed COVID-19. They were also higher in people who did not need hospitalization with COVID-19. That said, the likelihood of adverse heart effects from COVID-19 rises with the severity of the infection.

The authors concluded that the risks at 1 year following survival of the acute phase of COVID-19 are considerable.

Visit our dedicated cardiovascular health hub here.

Research notes that up to 1.3% of all individuals with COVID-19 have had a heart attack after the infection. Also, up to 4.9% of those who have died from COVID-19 had a heart attack.

Possible causes may include inflammation, increased risk of clotting, and an autoimmune reaction.


People who have had COVID-19 appear to develop a predisposition for atherosclerotic heart disease that can result in cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, indicate findings. Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty plaque deposits build up inside the arteries.

However, the factors that underlie the predisposition are unclear but likely linked to the increased inflammation that COVID-19 causes. Inflammation plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Prior clinical trials have shown higher rates of cardiovascular events in people with an elevated blood marker of inflammation.

Inflammation also makes atherosclerotic plaque more likely to rupture, which may culminate in a heart attack. Additionally, inflammation increases the activation of platelets, the fragments of blood that promote clotting.

Autoimmune reaction

An autoimmune reaction may also underlie the link between COVID-19 and heart attacks. Research from 2020 explains that COVID-19 can stimulate the production of autoimmune antibodies that attack the body’s tissues. This can cause the formation of life threatening blood clots and also drive inflammation.

The following are the major signs of a heart attack:

  • chest discomfort or pain, which may manifest as pressure or squeezing in the center or left side of the chest and may come and go
  • discomfort or pain in one or both arms or shoulders
  • discomfort or pain in the neck, jaw, or back
  • feeling faint, weak, or lightheaded
  • shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include unusual tiredness or nausea and vomiting.

Learn more about how to spot the signs of a heart attack here.

Heart problems are not common in children with COVID-19. That said, some may have:

  • inflammation in and around the heart
  • abnormal heart rate
  • cardiogenic shock, which is a sudden weakening of the heart that makes it unable to pump enough blood

Children with severe cases of COVID-19 that have involved heart effects have experienced sudden heart death or have died after intensive medical treatment.

In rare instances, children with COVID-19 develop a complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This condition can cause inflammation in various parts of the body, including the heart muscle or arteries. A 2020 study states that MIS-C may lead to blood clots, heart attacks, and death.

A 2022 study states that symptoms that indicate COVID-19 has affected the heart and lungs include:

  • chest pain
  • tiredness
  • palpitations, pounding or fast beating of the heart
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • postural orthostatic tachycardia, which manifests in a fast heart rate upon rising to stand from lying down

Most people with COVID-19 improve within a few days to a few weeks. That said, if a person has post-COVID conditions, it can last weeks, months, or years. Post-COVID-19, or long COVID, refers to long-term effects that result from the infection.

Someone recovering from COVID-19 should follow their doctor’s instructions regarding medications and isolation. Home care involves getting plenty of rest and fluids. If an individual experiences symptoms, such as trouble breathing, they should get medical attention immediately.

Children with mild COVID-19 can resume participation in sports after they recover. Conversely, those with more moderate or severe cases should undergo heart exams before returning to strenuous physical activity.

A heart attack after COVID-19 is possible in any person who has had the infection, but the risk increases with the severity of the case. COVID-19 also links to other heart problems, such as arrhythmias and heart failure.

Heart problems due to COVID-19 in children are not common but can occur.

Causes of the link between COVID-19 and heart attacks may include inflammation and an autoimmune reaction the infection triggers.

If an individual has signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, they should call 911 for emergency medical attention.