Kidneys to Heart: The Coronavirus’s Full-Body Assault

Medical staff treat COVID-19 patients in an ICU of San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome, Italy. April 14, 2020. Image: Antonio Masiello/Getty
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Medical staff treat COVID-19 patients in an ICU of San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome, Italy. April 14, 2020. Image: Antonio Masiello/Getty

Clinicians are charting gruesome carnage in COVID-19 patients that extends far beyond the lungs, according to The Washington Post. Damage includes:  

  • Heart inflammation 
  • Acute kidney disease 
  • Neurological malfunction 
  • Intestinal damage 
  • Liver problems 

Kidney damage is prompting great concern as doctors find blood or protein in the urine of nearly half of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized. 14 to 30% of New York and Wuhan intensive care patients required dialysis, the Post reports. Doctors suspect, but don’t know, that the damage is caused by the virus attacking kidney cells directly not by an over-charged immune response by the body.

Doctors are also reporting a small percentage of patients with neurological symptoms including confusion, seizures, tingling and numbness, WIRED reports. But evidence of how the virus might be affecting the central nervous system—and possibly the brain—is scant.

Reports of a new coronavirus-related insult to the body—blood clots—are emerging, according to STAT. Autopsies of patients are revealing blood clots in the lungs as well as in blood vessels and kidneys and other organs. Researchers aren’t sure why the clots are forming.

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