In Wuhan 14 to 30% of COVID-19 have lost their kidney function and now require either dialysis or kidney transplants. SARS-CoV-2 may also be causing inflammation of the heart muscles. This could interfere with the heart's ability to pump enough blood and can cause disturbances in the heart rhythm, ultimately leading to cardiac arrest.
40% of the COVID-19 patients in China suffered from irregular heart rhythm whereas 20% of the patients sustained some form of cardiac injury.
The novel coronavirus gains entry into humans by targeting a specific receptor called ACE2 found on lung cells. However, lungs are not the only cells in the human body that contain ACE2 receptors. The human gastrointestinal tract contains 100 times more ACE2 receptors than lungs.
As diarrhea is now one of the known symptoms of SARS-CoV-2. Researchers believe that the virus could be using these receptors to gain entry into other organs of the body. The coronavirus destroys the human lungs through cytokine storms.
Cytokine storm refers to the overreaction of your body's immune system. Sometimes the body produces large amounts of cytokines during an infection causing a huge burden to the immune system and forcing it to the site of infection.
This leads to hyper-inflammation, forcing the immune cells to destroy healthy cells in the linings of your lungs. This is why some COVID-19 patients need intensive care. The inflammatory chemicals released during the coronavirus infection cause the liver to produce important proteins that defend the body from infection.
However, these proteins can cause blood clotting while reducing the secretion of proteins that naturally dissolve these clots. These tiny blood clots can clog the small blood vessels in the heart and other organs. As a result, the organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrients which could ultimately lead to multi-organ failure.
However, researchers warn that it is too early to be certain that SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for organ damage. Other possible causes such as medication, stress and cytokine storm should be well investigated as well.