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Coronavirus Attacks Blood Vessels Across Body to Cause Multiple Organ Failure, Finds Study

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Apr 2020
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Image: Coronavirus Attacks Blood Vessels across Body to Cause Multiple Organ Failure, Finds Study (Photo courtesy of University Hospital Zurich)
Image: Coronavirus Attacks Blood Vessels across Body to Cause Multiple Organ Failure, Finds Study (Photo courtesy of University Hospital Zurich)
A study conducted by University Hospital Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) has found that the coronavirus attacks the lining of blood vessels across the body, ultimately resulting in multiple organ failure.

The researchers found that the deadly virus caused more than just pneumonia and enters the endothelium (layer of cells), which acts as a defense line of the blood vessels, causing circulation problems in the smallest of blood vessels. The coronavirus then reduces the blood flow to different parts of the body and eventually stops blood circulation. This also explains why smokers and those with pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and established cardiovascular disease, having a weakened endothelial function, or unhealthy blood vessels, were more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

Based on an analysis of three cases, the study found viral elements within endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels, and inflammatory cells in COVID-19 patients. Autopsies performed on other COVID-19 patients also found their blood vessel linings to be “full of virus” and impaired functioning of vessels in all their organs. Based on these findings, the researchers have suggested therapies to stabilize the endothelium in addition to vaccination that reduces virus replication, and believe that strengthening vascular health could hold the key to treating COVID-19 patients.

“This virus does not only attack the lungs, it attacks the vessels everywhere,” said Frank Ruschitzka, an author of the paper from University Hospital Zurich. “From what we do see clinically, patients have problems in all organs – in the heart, kidney, intestine, everywhere. All patients who are at risk and the elderly should be treated very well for the underlying cardiovascular conditions. The better they are treated, the more likely they are to survive the COVID-19 infection.”

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University Hospital Zurich

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