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New studies show how COVID-19 affects heart, lungs, taste

DETROIT – Researchers are constantly learning more about coronavirus and how it impacts the body.

New studies claim COVID-19 doesn’t just damage the lungs, it can also impact the heart.

Update May 20, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 53,009; Death toll now at 5,060

New research suggests that patients who show an enlargement of one of the heart’s four chambers are less likely to recover.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City looked at health records from more than 100 COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 26 and April 22. They found patients who had an enlarged right ventricle of the heart were most likely to die from the disease.

The study authors claim the reason isn’t clear, but it could be caused by the obstruction of blood flow in the lungs due to blood clots or lung tissue damage.

Direct damage to heart tissue by the coronavirus may also be a contributing factor. Based on this finding, doctors could use echocardiograms to help identify COVID-19 patients at the highest risk.

Several studies have now looked at one of the stranger symptoms of COVID-19 -- the sudden loss of taste or smell. A new summary in The Journal of the American Medical Association finds it has become a common symptom in coronavirus patients and several studies report it is often the first symptom patients notice or even the only symptom.

Researchers say people who experience a loss of taste or smell should immediately self-isolate and get tested.

Because this symptom is often reported in people with mild symptoms or no other symptoms, it could play a significant role in helping identify patients earlier and reduce the odds of spreading the disease to others. More research is planned on the significance of this symptom.

Most COVID-19 patients regain their sense of taste and smell on their own, but experts say those who don’t may benefit from available treatments.


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