It is well known that the novel coronavirus attacks lungs but a new Swiss study says that the infection also attacks the lining of blood vessels throughout the body that leads to multiple organ failure.
This has come to light after post-mortem analysis of a kidney transplant patient aged 71 years who had coronary artery disease and hypertension, died of multiple organ failure due to COVID-19. Electron microscopy on his kidney revealed that there were virally infected structures in endothelial cells (cell layers). This new study was published in The Lance on Friday. Two other cases were also studied to arrive at the result.
If the endothelial cells (lining in the blood vessel) get infected, it brings down the defense obstructing micro-circulation of blood, said Ruschitzka in a statement, who is one of the authors of the paper from University Hospital, Zurich.
This reduces blood flow to various parts of the body that ultimately stops blood circulation. Patients have problems in almost all organs, says Ruschitzka, such as heart, kidney, intestine among others.
Explains virus impact in those with conditions
This explained the reason behind weakened endothelial functions in smokers and those with pre-existing conditions. The underlying conditions are well known that is, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease among others.
'ACE2 receptors' in our cells are ones that let the virus to replicate in our body, it is seen in endothelial cells and in several organs, including lungs, heart, kidney, and intestine.
The researchers, thus, recommended therapies to stabilize the endothelium in tackling virus replication, especially with anti-inflammatory and anti-cytokine drugs including ACE inhibitors and statins.
This strategy could be relevant for patients with pre-existing conditions associated with "male sex, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and established cardiovascular disease," as all these are seen in adverse cases of COVID-19 patients.
Only vaccine is not enough
If a vaccine is made, it could stop virus replication, but researchers suggest that strengthening of vascular system would be the key in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
A similar claim was made previously by Dr. Sandro Giannini that the cause of severity in coronavirus patients were due to cardiovascular problems and not respiratory as the infection caused blood clots that causes inflammation. He said, first one had to dissolve those clots, to prevent inflammation.