New Delhi: An Italian study found coronavirus in the heart muscle cells of deceased Covid-positive patients, even though they had not displayed any signs of cardiac distress prior to their death.
The new study by researchers from the Milan University in Italy discovered SARS-CoV-2 in the heart cells of six patients aged between 54 and 69 years who succumbed to the infection and died of respiratory failure.
However, despite the presence of virus in the heart tissue, the study did not find any signs of cardiac involvement.
The pre-print version of the study was published in the journal medRxiv on 26 August 2020, and it still awaits peer review.
Active viral transcription found in heart cells
The study found active viral transcription in the cardiomyocytes or cardiac muscles of all six patients by detecting spike protein in the muscles. The spike protein of the novel coronavirus allows it to enter human cells.
Across patients, varying degrees of cardiac distress or injury was found. The study noted, “A variable pattern of cardiomyocytes injury was observed, spanning from the absence of cell death and sub cellular alterations hallmarks to the intracellular oedema and sarcomere ruptures”.
The study further suggested that surviving Covid-19 patients have to undergo cardiologic surveillance to monitor any potential cardiac distress.
This isn’t the first study to have suggest that Covid-19 can affect cardiac muscles.
A US study, published in March, found that over 7 per cent of Covid deaths may have occurred due to myocarditis — inflammation of heart muscle.
In another study published in JAMA Cardiology, researchers from the University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, discovered that 78 per cent of recovered Covid patients showed cardiac effects.
Furthermore, a non-peer-reviewed research from Spain, which studied 139 health care workers who had contracted the virus and recovered, found that 37 per cent of them were diagnosed with myocarditis.