Since the onslaught of COVID-19 infections, health authorities and news outlets have warned about coronavirus dangers in especially the elderly, individuals with existing pre-medical conditions and those facing obesity. But as extensive as research goes, the disease is “far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus”.
Doctors are noticing that the pattern of disease is different from what has been expected of COVID-19. While the virus is said to often attack the lungs, patients might not experience symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath.
Emerging research is showing that the virus could invade nearly every major organ system in the body: from the brain, heart, kidneys to even ‘COVID toes’.
COVID-19 Attacks More Than Just The Lungs
Blood clotting occurs as part of the body’s immune defence to battling against these unknown pathogens.
These blood clots are said to be life-threatening and could inflame blood vessels throughout the body.
This is consistent with new developments where doctors have warned how the virus could trigger a rare inflammatory reaction with cardiac complications such as heart problems and low blood pressure.
As of last Saturday, three children in New York City have died from an inflammatory disease thought to be linked to the coronavirus.
Over 73 children in the state were reported to have fallen severely ill. Several children from other regions in the UK also suffered from inflammatory complications.
COVID-19 and Inflammatory Disease: whether these blood clots are COVID-19 related, they can occur in any age group and suddenly. | Photo: iStock
“The coronavirus has been shown to cause the development of microthrombi [small clots]. These clots can travel to the lung and obstruct blood flow to the lung, which is called pulmonary embolism, or travel to brain circulation and cause ischemic stroke,” according to Dr Theresa Capriotti, DO, MSN, RN, at Villanova University to Healthline.
Whether these blood clots are COVID-19 related, they can occur in any age group and suddenly, said Dr Johanna T. Fifi at Mount Sinai who encountered “unusual numbers of stroke patients with COVID-19”.
It challenges the initial notion that coronavirus only causes complications in the elderly and not the young who have previously been considered low-risk.
COVID-19 and Inflammatory Disease: Where It Could Appear In A Patient’s Body
According to a study conducted by University Hospital Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland), coronavirus attacks the lining of blood vessels across the body and causes multiple organ failure.
The coronavirus causes a reduction of blood flow to different parts of the body—and blood circulation ceases.
COVID-19 and Inflammatory Disease: adults as young as 30 years old can also experience strokes. | Photo: iStock
These are symptoms that could appear in various parts of the body.
Brain – Strokes from blood clots, neurological issues
Eyes – Pinkeye
Nose – Loss of smell and taste (anosmia)
Blood – Unexpected blood clotting; attacks the lining of blood vessels
Gastrointestinal System – Vomiting and diarrhoea in some people
Lungs – Clogs and inflames alveoli (air sacs), hampering breathing; pulmonary embolism from breakaway blood clots and microclots
Heart – Weakens heart muscle; causes dangerous arrhythmias and heart attacks due to small clots
Kidneys – Damage to structures that filter waste from blood; patients often require dialysis
Skin – “COVID toes,” or fingers, a purple rash from the attack on blood vessels
Immune System – Widespread impact, including overactive immune response that attacks healthy tissue
Whether the underlying condition is COVID-19 or the body’s immune response to COVID-19, it shows that the coronavirus is constantly evolving.
But not all hope is lost—there are ways to reduce further risks and survive the infection.
“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,” said Frank Ruschitzka, an author of the paper from University Hospital Zurich.
Besides, doctors are “racing to recognise, explain and treat” these symptoms.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has over 14,600 papers related to COVID-19 in its database and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have kept abreast of new developments.