He coronavirus it is already one of the most aggressive pandemics of all time. With nearly two million affected and nearly 120,000 killed worldwide by Covid-19, experts are struggling in try to find a cure. But, for this, the first thing you need to understand is how it was born, how it developed and how it affects people, something about which you have some notions, but not all certainties. And, in that sea of doubts, a new unknown has appeared.
When this unknown virus began to claim numerous victims in Wuhan, the Chinese city where it all started, a group of experts began studying all those infected to try to understand what was happening: age, weight, symptoms, places visited and problems caused by the virus, among other issues. Soon, they discovered that in the most serious cases it generated a viral pneumonia… now, it has also been found to attack the heart.
From that study conducted in Wuhan, doctors have drawn a clear conclusion: 1 in 5 patients infected with coronavirus has developed heart damage Or, to put it another way, 20% of cases suffer from some type of heart problem. For this, it has been considered to rule out those patients who already had a previous heart problem, the most severe cases of contagion being the most affected, according to a study published in the journal 'JAMA Cardiology'.
Experts propose three possible scenarios to understand why it is happening: first, as a consequence of the heart having trouble pumping blood in the absence of enough oxygen as a consequence of the previous collapse of the lungs; secondly it may be because the virus directly invade heart cells; and, thirdly, that the body, in its attempt to stop the disease, mobilizes such a quantity of immune cells that end up attacking the heart.
For years, health professionals have been aware that some viruses can also affect the heart. In fact, a study published in the same 'JAMA Cardiology' explains that during epidemics of seasonal flu more patients die from heart complications than pneumonia. Another study published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine' confirms that a person with the flu has a six times greater risk of heart attack than when you are not sick.
An explanation yet to be found
Therefore, it is evident that there seems to be a relationship between viral pathologies and heart problems, but in the case of the coronavirus I still do not know exactly why or at what levels. It is clear that these situations are only taking place in patients with severe Covid-19 infections, while the milder ones do not show heart problems. And the explanation could be in a protein called ACE2.
This angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 fulfills a protective function, both in heart and lung cells. However, if the virus manages to reach them, we encounter a problem: it has not only directly hit the cells, but causes do not exercise their anti-inflammatory function, so it would be a double attack. That situation may be the beginning of the end, causing the immune system of the patient ends up not acting correctly.
Experts work against the clock to try to learn more about how the coronavirus affects our bodies, something that will obviously serve to understand how to better defend ourselves and find a vaccine as soon as possible. Not only do the lungs appear to be attacked in the most severe cases, but the heart also suffers the consequences of this terrible virus: Experts are still studying to try to find a vaccine that prevents Covid -9 from claiming thousands of victims worldwide.