Long COVID in Uganda: Electrographic findings among patients at risk

Public Health Chall. 2023 Jun;2(2):e78. doi: 10.1002/puh2.78. Epub 2023 Apr 4.


Background: COVID-19 has a significant cardiovascular involvement. Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities among people at a risk of Long COVID in Uganda was investigated.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from February to June 2022 at the post COVID - 19 clinic in Mulago National Specialized Hospital, Kampala. A standard resting ECG was performed on individuals at least 2 months following acute COVID-19, with a negative SARS-CoV-2 reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics as well as vital signs were recorded for all study participants.

Results: Of the 244 study participants, 117 (47.9%) were female. The median age of all the participants was 33.0 (interquartile range: 26.0 - 43.5) years. Twenty-five (10.2%) participants had a history of smoking while 117 (48%) had a history of alcohol intake. In total, 46 (18.9%) had abnormal ECG findings (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 14.39 - 24.29) and non-specific T-wave inversion (n = 16, 34%) was the most frequent ECG abnormality. The proportion of participants with ECG abnormalities was 48% lower among females (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR): 0.52, 95% CI: 0.28 - 0.96, p value < 0.05) and 2-fold greater for those with a history of smoking (aPR: 2.03, 95% CI:1.096 - 3.776, p value < 0.05).

Conclusion: One in five Ugandans who were checked at the clinic at a risk of Long COVID showed ECG abnormalities. ECG screening is suggested to be integrated into the follow-up care of those at a risk of Long COVID.

Keywords: Africa; Long COVID; Uganda; cardiac arrhythmias; cardiac conduction system disease; myocardial ischemia; pandemic; post-acute COVID-19 syndrome.