July 14, 2024

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Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections

Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections

Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections.

Hypotheses abound regarding the mechanisms behind long COVID, including acute organ damage, induced autoantibodies, vascular damage, and the existence of COVID-19 viral reservoirs in some patients. However, scientific hypotheses require evidence for validation.

On September 28, 2023, reseachers from New York University School of Medicine published a study in the journal Nature Cardiovascular Research, shedding light on the direct infection of coronary arteries by the COVID-19 coronavirus and its role in intensifying inflammation within arterial plaques, consequently elevating the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Long-Covid: Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 face an elevated risk of ischemic cardiovascular complications for up to one year following their infection. This heightened cardiovascular risk is likely exacerbated by the systemic inflammatory response triggered by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. However, what has remained uncertain is whether SARS-CoV-2 directly infects the coronary blood vessels and the atherosclerotic plaques associated with them.

In researchers’ latest findings, researchers reveal that SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA can indeed be detected and replicates within coronary lesions obtained during autopsies of severe COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, the research demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 specifically targets plaque macrophages and exhibits a pronounced preference for arterial lesions over adjacent perivascular fat. This preference aligns with the levels of macrophage infiltration observed in these areas.

Additionally,researchers’ investigation reveals that the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into these cells is enhanced in cholesterol-loaded primary macrophages and is partially dependent on neuropilin-1. Notably, when SARS-CoV-2 infects these cells, it triggers a robust inflammatory response, as evidenced by the secretion of cytokines known to play a role in the development of cardiovascular events.

Taken together, researchers’ data conclusively establish that SARS-CoV-2 has the capacity to infect coronary blood vessels, leading to inflammatory reactions within plaques. This inflammatory process has the potential to precipitate acute cardiovascular complications and elevate the long-term risk of cardiovascular issues among COVID-19 survivors.


Key Findings:

1. In COVID-19 fatal cases, researchers discovered that the COVID-19 virus could infect and replicate within arteries, regardless of the extent of plaque buildup.

Long-Covid: Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections

2. Post-infection, macrophages and foam cells released pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to increased plaque formation, providing an explanation for the heightened cardiovascular complications risk observed in COVID-19 patients.

3. The study suggests that the coronary arteries and cells within plaques might serve as reservoirs for the COVID-19 virus.


Sum up:

This study substantiates the ability of the COVID-19 virus to infect and replicate within plaques and arterial cells, enhancing our understanding of the association between COVID-19 and cardiovascular diseases.

Moreover, this research provides a basis for vaccination as a preventive measure against COVID-19 and the use of antiviral medications when necessary.

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s44161-023-00336-5
2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/sars-cov-2-infects-coronary-arteries-increases-plaque-inflammation

Cardiovascular Diseases Linked to COVID-19 Infections

(source:internet, reference only)

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