Heart, kidneys, pancreas – COVID-19 strikes many organs
The virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage, scientists are starting to realize.
We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” comments for Reuters Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.
The extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs
The broad and diverse manifestations of COVID-19 are somewhat unique, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs. Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.
The long-term effects of infection
Doctors increasingly are looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but are still suffering months after first becoming infected. Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term effects of infection, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Thursday.
“We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath,” Butler said. “How long that will last is hard to say.”
Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19. Patients who were in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks will need to spend extensive time in rehab to regain mobility and strength.
It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized to recover that type of strength,” Khan said. “It’s harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.”
Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed current scientific literature and found about half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological complications, such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain.
Koralnik’s findings were published in the Annals of Neurology.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
People who were seriously ill in hospital with coronavirus need to be urgently screened for post-traumatic stress disorder, leading doctors say.
The Covid Trauma Response Working Group, led by University College London and involving experts from south-east England, said those who had been in intensive care were most at risk, BBC reports.
The experts said regular check ups should last at least a year.