How does COVID-19 affect the cardiovascular system, and can we use that to help treat patients?

Bottom Line:

Emerging evidence points to the involvement of the COVID-19 virus with the cardiovascular system, and patients with existing cardiovascular conditions may be at increased risk of death. Research is being actively performed to better understand how this knowledge may help physicians treat patients with COVID-19, and understand the prognosis of infection in a quicker fashion.

Reference:

Aghagoli, G. et al. Cardiac involvement in COVID‐19 patients: Risk factors, predictors, and complications: A review. Journal of Cardiac Surgery (2020). https://doi.org/10.1111/jocs.14538

Date Published:

19 April 2020

Synopsis:

Although it is commonly regarded that COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs, there is emerging evidence showing the involvement of the virus with the heart, among other organs. This review identified that there are several cardiac risk factors which may predict the risk of being susceptible to the virus, and how severely it will affect the patient. Elderly patients with coronary heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension were noted to have a higher risk of infection of COVID-19, in addition to other comorbidities (existing illnesses/conditions). Additionally, this review paper noted that another study found a higher mortality rate in patients who also had cardiac injury. It is also suggested that early measurement of biomarkers for heart damage may help clinicians to understand the prognosis for the patient. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a cell receptor involved with the COVID-19 virus, and is present in the heart, further highlighting the heart as a potential target. Emerging evidence also indicates that myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle itself, may be a potential consequence of infection.

Summary by: Max Solish