Science

Covid-19 particles detected in the heart tissues of deceased patients: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 28, 2020

The study also mentioned that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of hospitalised patients experience cardiac symptoms.

Patients had died from respiratory failure, without showing signs of cardiac involvement

According to the researchers in Milan, Italy, SARS-CoV-2 was present in the heart tissue of deceased Covid-19 patients who had died from respiratory failure, without showing any signs of cardiac involvement.

The preprint version of the study was published in the journal medRxiv.

For the study, the researchers tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the heart tissue of six patients aged between 54 and 69 years with Covid-19 who had died from respiratory failure, without showing signs of cardiac involvement.

The study revealed that the virus was present in the cardiac muscle cells of all six patients, and active viral transcription of RNA for the viral spike protein had occurred.

The spike protein is the surface structure the virus clings on to bind itself with the host’s cell.

The research claimed that the injury to cardiac muscle cells varied, from the absence of cell death and no sub-cellular alterations to structural abnormalities and intracellular edema.

Edema refers to the excess accumulation of fluid within the tissues of the body.

Gaetano Pietro Bulfamante and his team from the University of Milan said that the findings indicated that guidelines for monitoring Covid-19 survivors once they have been discharged from hospital need to be revised.

The long-term cardiovascular outcomes could be similar to those seen in survivors of 2002 to 2003 SARS-CoV-1 outbreak, where 40 per cent of recovered individuals developed cardiovascular abnormalities over a 12-year follow-up period, the team warned.

The study also mentioned that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of hospitalised patients experience cardiac symptoms. This ranged from chest pain to arrhythmia and cardiogenic shock.

Furthermore, up to 7 per cent of Covid-related deaths are linked to myocarditis, said Bulfamante and team in their study.

However, it is still not clear whether the virus directly damages the cardiac muscles or if it over activates the immune responses that can be detrimental to the health of the heart.

Published on August 28, 2020

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