Six months into the pandemic and the “new normal” is everyday life.
Dr. Ameya Kulkarni told ABC7 News being in the COVID crisis for this length of time means things aren’t as scary and unknown as they once were.
“From March until now, what we have learned is a world of information and I think in the next six months, we’ll get another world,” Kulkarni told reporter Victoria Sanchez.
Kulkarni is a cardiologist and chairman of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mid-Atlantic Kaiser Medical Group. He said while the constant stream of new COVID data is helping physicians, it is causing some anxiety in patients.
In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60 percent of patients in the study had myocarditis, swelling of the heart, 10-12 weeks after recovering from coronavirus.
“One of my worries is that people will sort of see this top line and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, everybody with COVID is going to have a heart problem,’ and of course that’s just not true,” he said.
Two Northern Virginia patients ABC7 News followed in their recovery journey have much different outcomes from each other after both nearly died from COVID-19.
Titou Phommachanh’s wife said the Manassas father of three is doing remarkably well and has no heart issues. The wife of Luis Velasquez of Sterling told Sanchez while her husband is at home and doing better, he still cannot walk and has nerve damage.
While more than half of the people in the American Medical Association studyshow potential long-term heart issues, Kulkarni said the condition is treatable.
“We’re not panicking. We don’t need to immediately make sure that everyone who gets COVID gets and MRI. I don’t think that’s it at all. But it does mean that we will pay much more close attention to the patients who’ve had COVID if they present with symptoms that we’re worried about, you know, heart problems,” he said.
One thing that does seem to be universal across novel coronavirus patients who survive, is the length of time it takes to get back to feeling normal.
“Post-recovery is much longer than anyone anticipated. People have prolonged fatigue, deconditioning, they stay short of breath on exertion a lot longer than we would have thought with sort of a flu or respiratory illness,” Kulkarni explained.