- Physicians quickly learned in early 2020 that the use of blood thinners, which help keep blood from clotting, improved the chances of survival for moderately ill COVID-19 patients
- Maoz points out that the virus causes harm in many complex ways that are difficult to disentangle.
- However, he acknowledges that none of these potential drugs that would prevent the platelets from clotting or block the virus proteins from attacking the blood vessels will help people who are already suffering from long COVID.
- She’s still too afraid of the chest pain to go back to exercising, but she’s hopeful for the answers that ongoing research and open communication between doctors and their patients may yield as they learn together about the long-term implications of COVID-19.
Even after healing from COVID-19, many patients experience heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath. New research, though, gives reason for optimism as reported by National Geographic.
Mystery to scientists
When Danielle Huff first felt the discomfort in her chest, she was on her treadmill.
“Because I didn’t know what the chest ache was, I was terrified.”
COVID-19 has been believed by scientists since the beginning of the pandemic to be more than only a lung disease, but also a heart and blood vessel disease.
Surprisingly, Huff underwent a battery of heart-related tests and received normal findings.
Even so, she had to leave a yoga session because she was out of breath and couldn’t walk across her school building without wanting to sit down.
What’s causing them is still a mystery to scientists.
In early 2020, doctors discovered that using blood thinners, which prevent blood from clotting, increased the chances of life for moderately ill COVID-19 patients.
“We discovered it was not at all what we had anticipated,” Berger adds. “It was as if the genetic architecture of these platelets had been altered.”
The infected cell subsequently changes the platelets’ genetic makeup, causing them to become more active and emit protein signals that cause the blood vessel lining to become sticky and irritated.
The researchers demonstrated that the virus may infiltrate megakaryocytes, the bone marrow cells that produce platelets, in a report published in Science Advances.
The infected cell subsequently changes the platelets’ genetic makeup, causing them to become more active and emit protein signals that cause the blood vessel lining to become sticky and irritated. As a result, the veins are more likely to produce clots, which can spread throughout the body.
Scientists also discovered that the virus damages connections in the tissue that lines blood vessels, rendering them leaky rather than shutting them up as clots would.
“It’s like a two-edged sword,” Ben Maoz explains.
Blood and other chemicals in the body can leak into places they shouldn’t, such as the lungs’ air sacs and other organ tissues. This can result in a cascade of negative consequences, ranging from flooded lungs seen in many severe COVID-19 instances to the liver, renal, and, of course, cardiac issues.
“Things that we’re supposed to be safe from are suddenly showing up,” Maoz explains.
Some of the consequences, such as the stench and nasty liquid, will be immediately apparent.
The severity of the damage will be determined by the severity of the leak and its duration.
However, it’s unclear how this blood vessel damage is linked to patients who have recovered from COVID-19’s remaining cardiovascular symptoms.
Those tests, however, don’t tell the complete storey, according to Verma.
“You’ll find that the heart rate pattern isn’t entirely regular if you delve a little further,” she explains.
COVID-19 induced disruption in the autonomic nervous system, which is made up of nerve cells that naturally control critical activities like breathing and heartbeat, according to Verma.
Some speculate that it’s due to the body’s abnormal inflammatory response to the virus, or that it’s linked to sex hormones because women are more likely than males to become COVID-19 long-hauliers.
Validating that this is real is, to some part, the first step.
Reasons for hope
Researchers are making strides toward developing medications that will lessen the severity of COVID-19 and, as a result, improve cardiovascular outcomes.
This molecular knowledge will aid in the development of medications that prevent particular proteins from assaulting blood vessels and causing serious sickness.
“It’s incredible to see how quickly we’ve been able to adjust and respond to basic inquiries,” Berger adds. “Science has progressed at a breakneck pace.”
The palpitations and shortness of breath have gone away after she started taking medicine for her high blood pressure and raised heart rate.
She’s still terrified about the chest pain, but she’s optimistic about the solutions that continued research and open communication between doctors and their patients will provide as they discover more about COVID-19’s long-term ramifications.
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Source: National Geographic