from the world's big
The information could influence future treatments.
- LSU Health New Orleans pathologists conducted autopsies on 22 patients that died of the novel coronavirus.
- The team discovered that damage is not typical inflammation of the heart, as is common with myocarditis.
- These research findings could have implications in treating COVID-19.
Medical staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) walks near a patient at Parque dos Atletas (Athlete's Village) field hospital amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 8, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images<p>An earlier report by the team found that patents suffered from diffuse alveolar damage, which affects "the small airspaces of the lung where gas exchange occurs." Blood clots and bleeding in blood vessels in the lungs, alongside severely enlarged right ventricles, were the major causes of death.</p><p>The age range of the patients was 44 to 79, with a median age of 68.5. Ten male and a dozen female patients were autopsied, 19 of whom were African-American. All suffered from pre-existing conditions: 18 had hypertension; nine were obese; half suffered from type 2 diabetes; and four had chronic kidney disease. While 18 of these patients were intubated, all died of respiratory failure. </p><p>The exact mechanism of cardiac injury from COVID-19 remains unknown. As the team writes in the Research Letter, these autopsies are providing insight into that process. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that inflammatory cells can pass through the heart without being present in the tissue proper, a role for cytokine-induced endothelial damage cannot be ruled out."</p><p>Members of the LSU team are not the only researchers to discover viral infection of the endothelium, which might be the trigger for the <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/term/cytokine-storm/" target="_blank">cytokine storm</a>. </p><p>Until the development of a vaccine, which may be some time off (and may never happen), or until more successful treatments are discovered, we'll have to settle for incremental knowledge. Like COVID-19 itself, the research process is not beholden to a news cycle, but we can be thankful for small gains in our understanding of this virus. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>