Norfolk cardiologist: Beware COVID’s long-term effects, even in young people


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia doctor is issuing another warning to younger people who are not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and still haven’t gotten the vaccine.

Cardiologist Keith Newby says if you contract the disease, you may suffer from its effects for a long time.

And, some of those effects may require you to see a heart doctor.

Newby treats adult patients in his private practice, Fort Norfolk Plaza Medical Associates in Norfolk, but he says the age range of those coming to him since the pandemic began about 18 months ago has steadily trended downward.

“When I’m saying ‘young people,’ I’m looking at less than 30,” said Newby, who is also trying to get the
attention of African Americans and other minorities. Newby is the new medical director for health equity at
Sentara Healthcare.

“I had a young lady — she’s a little older at 49, but 49 to me is still very young — who died of COVID-19 two weeks ago,” said Newby when 10 On Your Side talked with him in early September.

“I’ve had three people in the past three days who came here with oxygen, who had COVID-19 months ago.” he added.

And Newby says some other patients who contracted COVID-19 prior to the onset of the now widespread delta variant are coming into his office either carrying or wearing oxygen generating equipment.

“[They’re] talking about being told they may have permanent lung damage because of COVID,” he said.

Although the effects of COVID-19 on the lungs are well known, Newby says patients who have cardiovascular
disease are at a higher risk of more severe complications from the virus. Among them are abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.

Newby says a younger person who contracts the coronavirus may be strong enough to survive it, and the possibility of lasting effects, called “long COVID,” is not certain. But he hopes the fear of COVID’s impact, especially the “unknowns,” will prompt more people to get the free vaccine.

“I had a lady, last year, who was 85, who died three weeks after her 85th birthday party because her family had to give her a birthday party. And she got COVID-19 because four of the family members came to this particular gathering, had COVID-19, and didn’t tell anybody,” he said.

Newby is encouraged by the uptick in the number of people getting vaccinated, saying that it’s too soon to let our guard down, yet.

His final plea: “Please wear a mask, get the vaccine, social distance, and wash your hands.”

“You gotta ask yourself: Is it worth potentially, your life, or the life of those around you? To me, it’s not,” he said.

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