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Researchers look at whether coronavirus targets the heart

Health professionals know the coronavirus impacts the lungs. Now, researchers are looking into whether it also hurts the heart. They want to know if that’s what’s causing some people to die.

A cardiologist at Gulf Coast Medical Center in south Fort Myers told us doctors are seeing COVID-19caused heart damage and heart attacks. That includes patients with no previous heart problems.

It could cause heart problems in a couple different ways: First, with the respiratory symptoms, patients aren’t getting oxygen. And, like other severe illnesses, it stresses the body and can damage the heart.

Inflammation from the virus could cause plaque in arteries to become unstable. Another way researchers believe the virus could infect the heart muscle is by attaching to receptors there like it attaches to receptors in the lungs.

Doctors are finding some patients rushed in with heart attacks turn out to be suffering from coronavirus.

“Thinking that’s just the cardiac condition, what we are finding is that some of these patients actually have COVID-19,” said Dr. Elizabeth M. Cosmai, a GCMC cardiologist. “So all bets are off … things that we thought were a slam dunk. This is a cardiac condition by itself can actually be a COVID-19 illness affecting the heart muscle.”

The big takeaway is those with heart conditions need to pay extra attention to CDC guidelines. And health care professionals are now looking at how to treat heart damage after someone recovers the virus.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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