"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

COVID-19 infects coronary arteries and causes plaque inflammation

September 28, 2023 – COVID-19 may increase the chance of heart attack and stroke by infecting the arteries of the guts and causing inflammation of fatty plaques within the arteries, in accordance with a latest study.

The results were funded by the National Institutes of Health and published within the magazine Nature cardiovascular research.

The information could make clear why some individuals with COVID-19 are at higher risk of developing heart problems or developing more heart-related complications in the event that they have already got it, in accordance with the NIH.

“We have known since the early days of the pandemic that people who have had COVID-19 have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke for up to a year after infection,” said Michelle Olive of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a part of NIH. “We believe we have uncovered one of the reasons for this.”

Previous research showed that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect brain and lung tissue. But doctors knew less about how the virus affects the coronary arteries.

“In the study, researchers focused on older people with fatty deposits known as atherosclerotic plaque who died from COVID-19,” the NIH said. “But because researchers found that the virus infects and multiplies in arteries regardless of plaque grade, the findings could have broad implications for anyone who becomes infected with COVID-19.”

Olive said the study is “incredibly important” since it contributes to general knowledge about COVID-19.

“This is just another study that shows how the virus infects many cells and tissues throughout the body and causes inflammation,” she said. “Ultimately, this is information that will feed into future research on both acute and long COVID.”