Heart damage in COVID-19 patients is caused by the novel coronavirus infecting heart muscle cells, leading to cell death that interferes with muscle contraction, study finds that could lead to the development of new drugs to treat the infection. viral.
While studies since the start of the pandemic have linked COVID-19 to heart problems such as a reduced ability to pump blood, scientists, including those at the University of Washington School of Medicine in the States United said it was so far unknown whether these are directly caused. by the virus infecting the organ, or due to inflammation elsewhere in the body.
In current research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Basic to Translational Science, they used stem cells to modify heart tissue and modeled how the coronavirus infects the heart.
The researchers found that the viral infection not only kills the heart muscle cells, but destroys the muscle fiber units responsible for the contraction of the heart muscle.
According to scientists, this cell death and loss of heart muscle fibers can occur even in the absence of inflammation.
“Inflammation may be a second stroke in addition to the damage caused by the virus, but the inflammation itself is not the root cause of the heart damage,” said study lead author Kory J Lavine of Washington University School of Medicine.
Based on the results of the study, the researchers said the coronavirus is unique in the effect it has on the heart, especially in immune cells that respond to infection.
For most of the other viruses that affect the heart, they said that the T and B cells of the immune system are at the site of infection, but in COVID-19, the study found that the body’s immune cells called macrophages, monocytes and dendritic cells dominate the counter-response.
“COVID-19 causes a different immune response in the heart compared to other viruses, and we don’t yet know what that means,” Lavine said.
“In general, immune cells seen in response to other viruses tend to be associated with relatively short-lived illness that resolves with supportive care,” he added.
According to scientists, these immune cells are associated with chronic disease that can have long-term consequences.
Although the researchers were able to validate their findings by studying tissue from four COVID-19 patients who had heart damage associated with the infection, they said more research was still needed to ‘understand what’s going on’ .
“Even young people who had very mild symptoms can develop heart problems later on that limit their ability to exercise,” Lavine said.
“We want to understand what is happening so that we can prevent or treat it. In the meantime, we want everyone to take this virus seriously and do their best to take precautions and stop the spread, so that we don’t have an even bigger epidemic. preventable heart disease in the future, ”he added.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)