2022 AMI Online Salon

The COVID heart – cardiovascular risk one year after SARS-CoV-2 infection

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Nicholas Reback
  • Client: American Medical Association
  • Copyright: Nicholas Reback, 2022
  • Medium/software used: Adobe Photoshop
  • Final presentation format: Printed journal and social media
  • Primary Audience: Clinicians and the general public

Project Description

Many people continue to experience health issues long after symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved, often referred to as ‘long COVID’ or ‘post-COVID conditions.’ A data analysis published in February of this year in Nature Medicine of 154,000 US veterans revealed an increased risk of cardiovascular sequelae in patients one year after recovery from COVID-19. This included cardiac inflammation, blood clots, strokes, myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, and heart failure. Elevated risks were shown to be present regardless of gender, ethnicity, prior risk of cardiovascular disease, or severity of COVID symptoms. The purpose of this illustration is to metaphorically express the impact of long COVID on cardiovascular health. The illustration is novel for the way it places the heart and COVID virion in a new context. A heart is shown uncomfortably shackled to a greatly oversized COVID virion by a large heavy chain. Strong cast shadows and exaggerated proportions help communicate the weight of the ball and chain. The distressed texture of the metal contrasts with the supple and resilient heart tissue which reacts uncomfortably to the tightness of the shackle. Injury to the heart is implied by the grasp of the shackle and a red inflammatory-like glow. In the background are two electrocardiograms pasted to a brick wall. The right ECG shows signals diagnostic of a dysrhythmia. Wear and tear of the paper provides an additional yet subtle implication of the effects of long COVID.