Dr. Janet Shapiro recovered from COVID-19 but she soon found that she had developed heart disease — and now doctors are documenting a rare trend of possible long-term effects of the novel coronavirus.
Doctors at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital say a growing number of recovered COVID patients are developing heart disease, lung disease, blood clots and kidney problems. All issues they did not have before.
Dr. Shapiro works as a pulmonary critical care doctor at the hospital system's Morningside Heights location and her skills were deeply needed in the epicenter of the pandemic in the country.
"This is like the medical challenge of our lifetime," she told NBC New York.
Weeks into the outbreak, she lost her sense of taste and was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The doctor soon recovered and returned to work, but then she noticed something odd.
"I started to feel like my heart was racing and I couldn’t run around like I always do and I had trouble catching my breath. And I was concerned there might be something wrong with my heart," Dr. Shapiro recalled.
So she had her heart checked out and found that she had developed cardiomyopathy — a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Doctors say they've started to notice this rare trend of healthy people suffering long term health problems after they have recovered from the virus that has killed thousands of Americans.
The experts at Mount Sinai are putting together a team to track any possible long term after effects.
"We are observing cases where there is weakening of heart muscle or symptoms more classically attributed to heart disease," said Dr. Matt Tomey, a cardiologist. "We’re just starting to scratch the surface on what some of the more intermediate and long term outcomes are of this novel disease."
Meanwhile, Dr. Shapiro is back to work but she's taking it easy, forgoing running to emergency patients. She still can’t taste anything but she says she feels good being in the mix, marveling at her own experience with this history-making disease.
"We're learning every day about what this virus is doing. Nothing we’ve ever seen before," she said.