Explained: COVID-19 Damages Multiple Organs Apart From Lungs

A team of Coumbia doctors presented their findings on the long term effect of COVID-19 on multiple organs.

COVID-19 damages not only the lungs, but rather damages multiple organs to cause problems like kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots, doctors said in a new report on the impact of COVID-19.

A team of doctors at Columbia University in New York City — which has had one of the highest footfalls of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, collected examples of COVID-19 impact on organs by drawing from their own experiences of dealing with patients.

Dr Aakriti Gupta, Fellow, Interventional Cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr Mahesh V. Madhavan, MD, Fellow, Division of Cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr Kartik Sehgal, Clinical Fellow in Medicine, Harvard Catalyst discuss their findings in an interview with DataBaaz.

"We're realising this is more than a lung disease. We were experiencing very high rates of kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, patients with blood clots that were forming everywhere, we were changing the catheters very frequently, which is different from what we had heard in March," said Dr Aakriti Gupta.

Their comprehensive report throws light on many new findings. Dr Karthik Sehgal simplifies different ways in which the virus affects the body. Two of these ways maybe unique to the virus—one of them being its entry into different body parts through the ACE2 receptors which can be present in the heart, kidneys, and gut which may cause this. ACE2 is a protein on the surface of many cell types.

The other way linked to ACE2 is the RAAS pathway. RAAS is generally responsible for maintaining the blood pressure fluid and electrolytes in the body. The COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) binds to the ACE2 receptor, making it act like a cellular doorway.

"The second part which is not unique to the virus is that whenever an infection happens, the virus tries to hijack the immune system which leads to its activation, and lead to a severe inflammatory response. This can lead to clotting abnormalities as well," added Dr Sehgal.

Dr Gupta talked about how the findings are universally applicable, especially in India, where doctors were reporting similar findings. "I think in any population that has higher proportions of either blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome—those populations are going to be much more vulnerable to the serious effects of the virus," she said.

The doctors have also changed the way they treat COVID-19 patients. Dr Gupta gives a few pointers on how treatment has changed:

-Instead of pre-emptively intubating these patients, tubes are avoided unless absolutely necessary.
-Asking the patients to lie on their stomachs helps them breathe better.
-Steroids have become routine for patients as soon as they are hospitalised.
-Hydroxychloroquine is not given to everyone who is hospitalised.
-Positive patients are screened for injuries to the lungs, kidneys, the heart, and the urine is checked for proteins. These tests are done to determine further course of action.

Dr Gupta also points out one very important factor for COVID-19 patients—their ordeal doesn't end with their discharge. Patients have to deal with multiple organ damage. Patients who have blood clots will be on blood thinners, patients who suffer damage to the kidney will need dialysis, and more.

"I realize that we are so overwhelmed right now, just taking care of patients who are hospitalized; but we need to think of where these patients transition to at the time of discharge. And even if they go home how are we going to make sure that they can have meaningful healthy lives moving forward," she added.

Highlights
-Populations with high proportions of blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome are more prone to side effects.
-COVID patients might need long term care after discharge.
-COVID-19 damages not only the lungs, but also caused kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots.

Catch the full interview on Youtube or click on the link here.

Updated On: 2020-07-19T11:48:25+05:30
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