San Francisco, Feb 20 (IANS) A group of scientists has discovered that in addition to the lungs and respiratory system, Covid-19 may have long-term effects on heart health, even in patients with no history of heart disease.
According to Time, Dr Andrew Marks, chair of the US-based Columbia University’s Department of Physiology, and his colleagues documented abnormalities in the heart tissue of Covid-19 patients who died as a result of the disease.
The team performed autopsies and discovered a number of anomalies, particularly in the way heart cells regulate calcium.
Calcium is required for all muscles, including those in the heart, to contract. Muscle cells store calcium and use special channels within their cells to release it when it is needed, according to the report.
In some cases, such as heart failure, the channel remains open in an attempt to assist the heart muscle in contracting more actively.
The leaking of calcium eventually depletes calcium stores, weakening the muscle in the end, the report said.
“We found evidence, in the hearts of Covid-19 patients, abnormalities in the way calcium is handled,” said Marks.
Moreover, Marks intends to investigate the heart changes caused by SARS-CoV-2 further by studying how the infection affects the hearts of mice and hamsters.
Further, the report mentioned that to document any lingering effects, he plans to measure changes in immune cells as well as any changes in heart function in the animals both while they are infected and after they have recovered.
“The data we present show that there are dramatic changes in the heart. The precise cause and long-term consequences of those need to be studied more,” Marks added.