MAR 29, 2020 7:34 AM PDT

Coronavirus Damages Heart Tissue, Not Just the Lungs

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Although most severe cases of the novel coronavirus involve respiratory failure, new research has found that the virus may also infect the heart and its surrounding muscles. Sometimes fatal, this may also lead to longer term damage- and not just in people with underlying conditions; reports have emerged that people without pre-existing cardiovascular issues have also developed heart complications from the virus. 

Dr Mohammad Madjid, the lead author of the research said, “It is likely that even in the absence of previous heart disease, the heart muscle can be affected by coronavirus disease...Overall, injury to heart muscle can happen in any patient with or without heart disease, but the risk is higher in those who already have heart disease.”

For the study, Madjid and his team reviewed an array of existing studies both on COVID-19 and related viruses. In particular, they noted that those with pre-existing heart conditions were more likely to be infected and to die from the virus, and were also more likely to develop further heart injuries. 

They also noted that respiratory viruses may trigger heart problems in healthy patients too. For example, they noted that during most flu epidemics, more patients tend to die from heart complications than respiratory issues like pneumonia, and that many develop arrhythmias, heart failure and acute coronary syndromes. Although evidence is lacking to suggest this to be the case with the novel coronavirus too, the researchers say that they expect similar cardiac issues among severe cases of the novel coronavirus to arise. 

One such example comes from a study highlighting a case of a 53-year-old healthy woman without a history of heart disease or other underlying health conditions. Although having had a fever and a dry cough, doctors reported that she had no difficulty breathing and that her chest X-rays were clear. However, they then found that the lining of her heart was both inflamed and infected, and that she indeed had the coronavirus. 

But how did this happen? Although uncertain, the researchers have two possible theories. The first is that the virus spread from her lungs via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to eventually reach her heart. Another is that the coronavirus may have triggered an inflammatory response in her body, thus causing her heart to become damaged. 



Sources: Business Insider, Science Daily and Newsweek

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
JAN 26, 2021
Cardiology
Your Nose Could Tell You Something About Your Heart Health
JAN 26, 2021
Your Nose Could Tell You Something About Your Heart Health
As we get older, many things change in our bodies. We lose touch with the newest fashion trends, or which new phone is b ...
MAR 02, 2021
Cardiology
Creating a Light Switch in the Heart to Regulate Heart Rate
MAR 02, 2021
Creating a Light Switch in the Heart to Regulate Heart Rate
Often when it is dark, we go for a flashlight or our phone to see where we are going. What if I told you that is much th ...
MAR 28, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Fish Oil Benefits May Depend on a Person's Genetics
MAR 28, 2021
Fish Oil Benefits May Depend on a Person's Genetics
The benefits of fish oil have been debated for years. New research can explain why it's been difficult to reach a solid ...
APR 14, 2021
Cardiology
Activity At Work Doesn't Benefit Like Leisure Time Exercise
APR 14, 2021
Activity At Work Doesn't Benefit Like Leisure Time Exercise
A new study that examined the habits and health conditions of thousands of people has suggested that exercise that's don ...
MAY 19, 2021
Immunology
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
MAY 19, 2021
Intestinal Macrophages Promote Chronic Inflammation in Obesity
A research group from Switzerland hypothesized that immune cells in the gut (gastrointestinal tract) must trigger chroni ...
AUG 05, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Wearable Patch Senses Blood Vessel Blockages
AUG 05, 2021
Wearable Patch Senses Blood Vessel Blockages
The cardiovascular system is like a network of highways, filled with an estimated 25 trillion red blood cells that conti ...
Loading Comments...