A new report has said that the coronavirus not only destroys the lungs, it can also harm the heart, kidneys and liver.
Medical professionals around the world are seeing evidence suggesting COVID-19 could be causing a number of issues unrelated to the lungs, including heart inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, blood clots, intestinal damage and liver problems, The Washington Post reported.
Nearly half of those hospitalized with the virus have blood or protein in their urine, showing early damage to their kidneys, according to Alan Kliger, a nephrologist at the Yale School of Medicine in the US.
Early data also shows that 14 to 30 per cent of ICU patients in New York and Wuhan, China—where the virus originated—losing kidney function and needing dialysis or continuous renal replacement therapy, Kliger said.
“That’s a huge number of people who have this problem. That’s new to me,” Kliger said. “I think it’s very possible that the virus attaches to the kidney cells and attacks them.”
The illness could also harm the heart, with doctors in China and New York reporting myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and irregular heart rhythms that can lead to cardiac arrest in COVID-19 patients.
“They seem to be doing really well as far as respiratory status goes, and then they develop a cardiac issue that seems out of proportion to their respiratory issues,” said Mitchell Elkind, a Columbia University neurologist and president-elect of the American Heart Association. “This seems to be out of proportion to their lung disease, which makes people wonder about that direct effect.”
Some reports also indicate that the virus can target the liver. It also appears to be able to produce blood clots in the veins of the legs and other vessels, which can break off, travel to the lung and cause death by pulmonary embolism.
This is becoming more common across New York, with blood thinners being used to treat patients more than expected, according to Sanjum Sethi, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center. “We’re just seeing so many of these events that we have to investigate further,” he said.