Canadian doctor warns of ‘lasting’ effects of COVID-19 on heart

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TORONTO – A Canadian doctor is urging that patients with COVID-19 be monitored and followed long after the new coronavirus has left their bodies, as the virus has been shown to cause lasting heart damage. A study published in late July found that out of 100 adults in Germany who had recently recovered from COVID-19, 60 showed signs of persistent heart inflammation. MRI scans detected other heart problems in 18 other recovered patients.

The patients studied were between 45 and 53 years old. Although a third of the patients were hospitalized, none were considered to have exhibited severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“What we could see here is a widespread prevalence of heart disease in patients with COVID-19,” Dr. Gavin Oudit, professor of medicine at the University of Alberta and specialist in the disease, said on Wednesday. heart failure, on CTV’s Your Morning.

Another study in Germany found that the virus could be detected in 16 of the 39 COVID-19 patients who died, although it is not clear if this contributed to the death, as there was no sign of sudden inflammation. .

However, it is not just the heart that can show lasting effects after a COVID-19 infection.

This, Oudit said, is due to the way coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 bind to a protein known as angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2, which Oudit describes as a “very important enzyme in the body which has unfortunately been hijacked.” by [SARS-CoV-2] and is now used as its receiver. ”

Although ACE2 is strongly associated with the heart, it is present in many organs.

“It’s in the lungs; it is in the intestine; it’s in the cardiovascular system; it’s in the kidneys; it’s in the central nervous system – that’s why patients with COVID-19 hurt so much when they get very sick. It is truly a multisystem disease, ”Oudit said.

Researchers at two Ontario universities are studying how COVID-19 attacks the lungs, noting that ACE2 is likely only part of the puzzle.

In the heart, the virus’ attack on ACE2 can lead to myocarditis – inflammation – as well as vascular dysfunction, Oudit said, which will make it important for doctors to monitor COVID-19 patients long after the virus has left their body.

“I think there will be lasting effects,” he said.

“We all need to be vigilant. “

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