Coronavirus damages not only the lungs, but the kidneys, liver, heart, brain and nervous system, skin and gastrointestinal tract, doctors noted Friday in a review of reports about Covid-19 patients.
The team at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City — one of the hospitals flooded with patients in the spring – went through their own experiences and collected reports from other medical teams around the world.
Their comprehensive picture shows coronavirus attacks virtually every major system in the human body, directly damaging organs and causing the blood to clot, the heart to lose its healthy rhythm, the kidneys to shed blood and protein and the skin to erupt in rashes. It causes headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, stomach pain and other symptoms along with classic respiratory symptoms such as coughing and fever.
"Physicians need to think of COVID-19 as a multisystem disease," Dr. Aakriti Gupta, a cardiology fellow at Columbia who worked on the review, said in a statement. "There's a lot of news about clotting but it's also important to understand that a substantial proportion of these patients suffer kidney, heart, and brain damage, and physicians need to treat those conditions along with the respiratory disease."
More details: Much of the damage wrought by the virus appears to come because of its affinity for a receptor — a kind of molecular doorway into cells – called ACE2. Cells lining the blood vessels, in the kidneys, the liver ducts, the pancreas, in the intestinal tract and lining the respiratory tract all are covered with ACE2 receptors, which the virus can use to grapple and infect cells, the Columbia team wrote in their review, published in the journal Nature Medicine.
“These findings suggest that multiple-organ injury may occur at least in part due to direct viral tissue damage,” the team wrote.
"This virus is unusual and it's hard not to take a step back and not be impressed by how many manifestations it has on the human body," Dr. Mahesh another cardiology fellow who worked on the review, said in a statement.