In this Aug. 27, 2014 file photo, a laptop computer monitors a patient's heart function in Augusta, Georgia. Credit: Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle via AP

PHILADELPHIA — Some good news for young COVID-19 patients who develop dangerous inflammation in multiple organs: After three months, their heart function generally has returned to normal, according to a new study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

That’s not to say this condition, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) isn’t serious. Children have died from it, and while most survive, the symptoms can linger for months. Some type of heart injury is usually part of the mix.

But for the 60 children in the study, all signs of cardiac impairment had returned to normal after three months, the authors wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Overall the picture is good news,” senior author Anirban Banerjee said in an interview.

The picture is not so promising, however, for adult COVID patients with impaired heart function, according to another new study in the same journal.

Three months after hospitalization with COVID, adult patients still were twice as likely to suffer from diastolic dysfunction — the heart’s ability to relax in preparation for its next beat, authors from Norway reported.

In the study, the function of the children’s hearts was tracked periodically with a sophisticated type of echocardiogram, Banerjee said. In addition to evaluating pumping ability, the researchers measured the amount of strain on each child’s heart. They did so by monitoring how the length of a given section of heart tissue grew and shrank with each beat.

For some of the children, heart function returned to normal within weeks, said Banerjee, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. All had returned to normal range after three months.

The improvement after three months suggests that these children can return to normal physical activity, he said.

Story by Tom Avril, The Philadelphia Inquirer