New Study Reveals COVID-19 Directly Infects Heart Arteries, Increasing Risk of Cardiovascular Complications
A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health has shed light on the relationship between COVID-19 and cardiovascular health. The study found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can directly infect the arteries of the heart and cause inflammation in fatty plaques, thus increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The findings of this study may help explain why some individuals who contract COVID-19 have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease or experiencing heart-related complications. While the study focused on older individuals with preexisting atherosclerotic plaque who died from COVID-19, the researchers believe that the implications could extend to anyone who contracts the virus.
Previous research has primarily focused on the virus’s impact on tissues such as the brain and lungs. However, less was known about how SARS-CoV-2 affects coronary arteries. This study found that the virus can infect arterial and plaque cells, including macrophages and foam cells, which are known to contribute to plaque inflammation.
Interestingly, the virus demonstrated a higher rate of infection in macrophages compared to other arterial cells, and foam cells were particularly susceptible to infection. As a result, infected cells released molecules called cytokines, which increase inflammation and promote the formation of more plaque.
These findings add to our growing understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on the body. They provide valuable insights into the relationship between the virus and cardiovascular disease. However, it is important to note that the study’s findings are only relevant to the original strains of SARS-CoV-2 that circulated in New York City from May 2020 to May 2021. Additionally, the research was based on a small cohort of older individuals with preexisting medical conditions.
The study was funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as well as other institutes within the National Institutes of Health. Both organizations are dedicated to conducting and supporting research in heart, lung, and blood diseases, as well as other medical research.
Overall, the findings from this study will inform future research on COVID-19 and its long-term effects on cardiovascular health. By better understanding how the virus interacts with the heart, medical professionals can develop more targeted prevention strategies and treatments for those at higher risk of heart-related complications.
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