6 May 2021
The Coronavirus most commonly affects the lungs but it can also lead to serious heart problems. COVID-19 can damage the lungs, preventing enough oxygen from reaching the heart muscle.
The virus does damage, in part, by triggering an overactive immune response that sets up “hyperinflammation.” When this inflammation affects the lining of the blood vessels, COVID-19 can raise the risk for blood clots that can affect the lungs, heart, and other vital organs. It’s important to note that the body’s reaction to the coronavirus is similar to when you get the flu or other viral infections, but in some cases, it’s a lot stronger.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is the nation’s leader in research, training, and education programs for the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. NHLBI research as help us understand how inflamation and infection afect the heart.
Video: NHLBI / YouTube
Some research published in the journal Circulation Research, showed that Covid-19 is a vascular disease, demonstrating exactly how the SARS-CoV-2 virus damages and attacks the vascular system on a cellular level.
Cardiologists scrutinize inflammation caused by COVID-19
Autopsy studies of very sick coronavirus patients “have shown that about 50% of them have the virus in their hearts,” said Dr. April Stempien-Otero, a cardiologist at the UW Medicine Heart Institute.
“We don’t know how much direct infection of COVID is going to affect future cardiovascular disease,” Stempien-Otero said, but we do know that anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes with heart disease, artery disease – that those patients have twice the rate of death from COVID.”
Video: UW Medicine/YouTube
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