Scientists May Have Found Clues About How COVID Leads To Long-Term Heart Complications

- The coronavirus was once little understood. Experts and leaders have expressed differing opinions on the virus and whether or not it could cause serious health issues. 

Today, we know that the COVID disease is quite serious, as it was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2021, behind only cancer and heart disease (per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

Not only is COVID potentially lethal, it can also cause a series of short-term symptoms, long-term symptoms, and perhaps permanent bodily damage. 

The short-term symptoms of COVID-19 include — but are not limited to — a loss of smell or taste, achy muscles, chest pain, cough, fatigue, fever, headache, shortness of breath, and sore throat, says Mayo Clinic. 

Sometimes symptoms persist, consistently or on and off, for weeks or months. This is called "long COVID" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Long COVID symptoms can affect a wide range of body systems like the digestive system, the respiratory system, and even the central nervous system. 

Further, some people — about 1 in 6, says WebMD — develop health complications. 

Many of these issues can stem from a cytokine storm, which inundates the bloodstream with inflammatory proteins that can damage your organs like the lungs, liver, and kidney. 

However, researchers recently found a way that COVID can damage the heart besides inflammation. Here's how COVID-19 can damage the heart at a genetic level.

COVID can damage your heart's DNA

A 2022 study published in the journal Immunology compared how COVID and influenza, or the flu, affect heart tissue from patients who passed away from either COVID or the flu. 

There was also a control group of patients who died from different causes. According to News Medical, the researchers wanted to better understand, at a molecular level, why COVID has caused more "severe and long-term cardiovascular disease" as compared to the flu. 

They studied actual cardiac tissue samples and found that unlike influenza, which affected the heart through inflammation, COVID damaged DNA found in the heart. 

More specifically, they found the upregulation — a process to increase sensitivity — of a DNA enzyme associated with repair to DNA damage. 

They also found downregulation — a process to decrease sensitivity — in groups of genes that play a role in "mitochondrial function and metabolic regulation" (per the study). 

WebMD reports that the damage to the heart shares similarities with damage caused by other chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. 

The researchers concluded that the damage may result in a number of heart-related issues ranging from arrhythmias and acute myocardial infarction to heart failure and sudden cardiac death (per the study).

writter by: NICKLAS BALBOA


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