Is Covid-19 Bad for Your Heart? A Recent Study Discovered Cardiac Muscle Injury in Covid Patients

Scientists have been concerned for months about a rise in cardiovascular illness among COVID-19 patients, even though the SARS-CoV-2 virus had long departed their bodies.

These heart problems have long been a part of the greater discussion regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19, with a June research by the Department of Veterans Affairs finding that individuals who were re-infected with it were twice as likely to acquire it. If someone were only infected once, they would die or suffer a heart attack.

In the hearts of these individuals, the two respiratory viruses (COVID and flu) look extremely different.

A new study published in the scientific journal Immunology used spatial transcriptomics, a technology that allows scientists to directly map how genes are expressed on tissues, to investigate the specific impacts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on humans. The researchers compared SARS-CoV-2 to the H1N1 influenza virus that caused the 2009 pandemic.

Unfortunately, data suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is more dangerous to human organs and for a longer length of time than the H1N1 virus.

The scientists analysed and compared heart tissue from people who died from both conditions, as well as a group of control patients, in the study. While the COVID-19 patients did not have the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their cardiac tissue, their heart muscles showed evidence of DNA damage that were distinct from the inflammatory signal seen in flu patients. COVID-19 patients, on the other hand, showed a reduced inflammatory signal.

“The two respiratory viruses (COVID and flu) seem quite different in these patients’ hearts,” corresponding author Dr. Arutha Kulasinghe of the University of Queensland told Salon via email. “DNA damage is a hallmark of genomic instability; we’ve known about it in chronic disorders like cancer, neurological diseases, and diabetes, but its involvement in COVID was unknown, and the clinical consequences are unclear at this point.”

Kulasinghe raised concern that their findings could serve as a “canary in the coal mine,” demonstrating that there are fundamental biological variations in how flu and COVID-19 affect the human heart.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco who was not involved in the study, told Salon via email that the study was small because it only included four autopsies of older COVID-19 patients, all of whom had underlying heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.

As a result, “this study certainly shows that severe COVID-19 in individuals with underlying heart disease may contribute to more heart inflammation,” but “it does not yet draw conclusions about the effects of COVID-19 on the heart in mild disease, nor in patients without underlying heart disease.

” Gandhi elaborated. “This is a hypothesis-generating study that should inspire us to further investigate the inflammatory response in COVID-19 as well as continuing to reduce severe SARS-CoV-2 disease using vaccinations and medicines.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, provided context for the findings by emailing Salon, saying, “We know very little about the long-term ramifications of COVID-related heart disease.” We also know very little about how effective immunizations are in preventing specific organ harm. As a result, this is another critical field of study.”

Myocarditis, palpitations, heart failure, and arrhythmias are among the heart-related symptoms associated with early COVID-19 infections.

The Immunology study’s researchers, for their part, were hesitant in expressing the magnitude of their findings.

“It informs us that COVID-19 and flu affect the heart in very different ways, with COVID-19 potentially more harmful (and probably for a longer period of time),” Kulasinghe told Salon. “More research is needed to assess the value of this DNA damage signal (which was discovered in severe/ICU patients who died), thus what this signifies for live patients following infection is unknown.”

Scientists could look for the same DNA damage signal observed in heart tissue in nasal swabs and blood samples. If the same DNA damage is found there, doctors may be able to predict potential cardiac issues.

Concerns concerning heart disease and long-term COVID are part of a larger discussion about COVID-19’s long-term impact. While there are indications that COVID-19 could inflict long-term harm to the brain, lungs, and other essential organs, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is so young that experts cannot predict its long-term impact.

According to the Immunology study, myocarditis, palpitations, heart failure, and arrhythmias are among the heart-released symptoms linked with early COVID-19 infections.

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