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We do not treat it: COVID-19 may not be a respiratory disease, and there are already medicines for it

Scientists from Switzerland and the United States have found that the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can infect cells in blood vessels and lead to serious heart disease. If this is indeed the case, drugs for COVID-19 may already be ready. Writes about it "New time".

Photo: Shutterstock

Despite the weakening of quarantine in many countries, scientists continue to investigate how SARS-CoV-2 infects the human body.

Earlier, doctors determined that people who have heart problems are at increased risk due to the epidemic - they may develop serious complications of COVID-19.

Disorders and additional stress on the cardiovascular system have been associated with inflammatory processes that occur in the body during infection.

However, damage to the human respiratory system is still considered the main cause of morbidity and mortality from the new coronavirus.

A new study of scientists from Switzerland and the USA can change our idea of ​​this disease: experts said that this respiratory virus infects human blood cells and causes diseases of the cardiovascular system.

This confirms not only the statistics of deaths from COVID-19, which were associated with heart diseases, but also revealed unusual properties of the coronavirus: unlike their relatives, the SARS-CoV-2 strain can penetrate into the blood vessels, destroying lung tissue.

We tell what a new study means and how it can change the development of drugs for COVID-19.

In the heart through the lungs

Recently, a group of scientists from the University Hospital in Zurich and Harvard Medical School in Boston said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to infection of human blood cells that protect the cardiovascular system.

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The results of their study noted that, destroying the patient’s lung tissue, the virus enters the blood vessels and infects endothelial cells.

Scientists suggest that their discovery may confirm that SARS-CoV-2 is in fact a virus that primarily affects the cardiovascular system and leads to death through complicating the work of the heart.

As one of the authors of the study, MD Mandip Mehra, explains, endothelial cells protect blood vessels and secrete proteins that affect blood coagulation and the body's immune response.

In their article, scientists confirmed that people with COVID-19 had endothelial cell damage in their lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and intestines.

According to them, the main difference between the new strain of coronavirus and similar influenza viruses such as SARS and H1N1 is that SARS-CoV-2 not only penetrates the body through the respiratory tract, but also moves from the alveoli into the blood vessels.

As Benhur Lee, MD, professor of microbiology, explained, the difference between SARS and SARS-CoV-2 is the extra protein that the virus needs to activate and spread. It is this protein that is found in endothelial cells, and allows the new coronavirus to attack the cardiovascular system.

“In SARS1, the protein needed to break it down is probably only found in the lungs, so it can multiply. As far as I know, this is not actually a systemic one. SARS-CoV-2 is broken down by a protein called furin, which is very dangerous because furin is present in all our cells and is ubiquitous, ”says Dr. Benhour Lee.

Since endothelial cells are responsible for maintaining the normal process of blood coagulation and its uniform flow in the vessels, scientists suggest that it is SARS-CoV-2 that can cause patients to die from a heart attack.

In other words, a new coronavirus can infect endothelial cells and lead to inflammation of the blood vessels. This, in turn, threatens with a shortage of blood supply to the body, blockage of blood vessels by blood clots and an increased risk of heart attack.

The new theory can explain not only why people with cardiovascular problems suffer from COVID-19 much more often, but also why lung ventilation does not save many patients: the blockage of oxygen in the blood vessels in the lungs disrupts the normal circulation of air in the body , even if this circulation is artificial.

Scientists have also repeatedly confirmed the presence of blood clots in the blood of patients who died from COVID-19.

It is significant that if severe symptoms of coronavirus and death from this disease are indeed associated with damage to the cardiovascular system, scientists may already have drugs ready to fight COVID-19.

According to recent studies by scientists from China and the United States, in which experts analyzed approximately 9 thousand patients with COVID-19, mortality rates were much lower in people who use drugs to stabilize the cardiovascular system.

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“We're talking about arguably the best antiviral therapy that isn't really antiviral therapy. The best therapy may be drugs that stabilize the endothelial cells in the vessels, ”says Mandip Mehra.

Extra pounds - extra risks

A new study on the association of coronavirus with cardiovascular disease can also explain yet another statistical phenomenon about the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent study by scientists from New York University, severe obesity leads to greater risks of hospitalizing a patient with COVID-19 than heart failure, smoking, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

According to COVID-19 mortality and morbidity statistics in China, over 88% of people who died from coronavirus were overweight. And only 18,95% of patients with COVID-19 and overweight managed to survive.

Scientists from the Medical School of the University of West Virginia stated in their study that overweight or obesity is one of the main factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases, in particular, increased resistance to insulin, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.

"It is quite obvious that the development of obesity can have and often difficult to predict effect on the function of blood vessels," - wrote the authors of the work.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine also states that in the United States, obesity has become one of the key risk factors for COVID-19 because almost half of hospitalized patients have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30.

To determine BMI, you need to divide a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. For example, if you are 1,8 m tall and weigh 80 kg, your BMI will be 24,6 (80: (1,8 * 1,8)).

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According to WHO recommendations, a BMI of 18,5 to 25 is the norm. Anything below a BMI of 18,5 is considered a body mass deficit, and a BMI of 25 to 30 indicates overweight. BMI of 30 to 40 or more is considered obesity of various degrees.

Scientists do not exclude that because of the high BMI in many patients with COVID-19 in the USA, it was in this country that there was a high percentage of hospitalization of young people: approximately 20% of patients with severe symptoms were aged 20 to 44 years.

“Overweight people need more oxygen. This means that their body is actually under more pressure, ”said Professor Navid Sattar from the University of Glasgow.

According to Rami Beylon, MD at Stanford University and co-founder of Enara Health, a research and treatment company for obesity, it is obesity that could be "the most disastrous pandemic in human history."

Therefore, according to Beylon, health systems in different countries should allocate as much money to fight obesity as they allocate to other serious diseases.

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