Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy in clinical long-COVID-19 syndrome: a prospective case–control study

Miroslawa Gorecka, Nicholas Jex, Sharmaine Thirunavukarasu, Amrit Chowdhary, Joanna Corrado, Jennifer Davison, Rachel Tarrant, Ana-Maria Poenar, Noor Sharrack, Amy Parkin, Manoj Sivan, Peter P. Swoboda, Hui Xue, Vassilios Vassiliou, Peter Kellman, Sven Plein, Stephen J. Halpin, Alexander D. Simms, John P. Greenwood, Eylem Levelt

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Background: The underlying pathophysiology of post-coronavirus disease 2019 (long-COVID-19) syndrome remains unknown, but increased cardiometabolic demand and state of mitochondrial dysfunction have emerged as candidate mechanisms. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) provides insight into pathophysiological mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and 31-phosphorus CMR spectroscopy (31P-CMRS) allows non-invasive assessment of the myocardial energetic state. The main aim of the study was to assess whether long COVID-19 syndrome is associated with abnormalities of myocardial structure, function, perfusion and energy metabolism.

Methods: Prospective case–control study. A total of 20 patients with a clinical diagnosis of long COVID-19 syndrome (seropositive) and no prior underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 10 matching healthy controls underwent 31P-CMRS and CMR at 3T at a single time point. All patients had been symptomatic with acute COVID-19, but none required hospital admission.

Results: Between the long COVID-19 syndrome patients and matched contemporary healthy controls there were no differences in myocardial energetics (phosphocreatine to ATP ratio), in cardiac structure (biventricular volumes), function (biventricular ejection fractions, global longitudinal strain), tissue characterization (T1 mapping and late gadolinium enhancement) or perfusion (myocardial rest and stress blood flow, myocardial perfusion reserve). One patient with long COVID-19 syndrome showed subepicardial hyperenhancement on late gadolinium enhancement imaging compatible with prior myocarditis, but no accompanying abnormality in cardiac size, function, perfusion, extracellular volume fraction, native T1, T2 or cardiac energetics.

Conclusions: In this prospective case–control study, the overwhelming majority of patients with a clinical long COVID-19 syndrome with no prior CVD did not exhibit any abnormalities in myocardial energetics, structure, function, blood flow or tissue characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2022


  • 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging
  • COVID-19
  • Post-COVID-19 syndrome

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