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Watch | Which organs does COVID-19 affect the most?

Coronavirus spares no major organ in the body. For some patients, the virus spreads its lethal tentacles to multiple organs. If the virus is not detected in the initial stage, it invades the lower respiratory tract.

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The lungs are just the ground zero. Other organs that can be affected include the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain. The virus enters the cells by binding to receptors angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 or ACE2 which are found on it.

These receptors act as the site of entry and are found in the cells of multiple organs, making it easy for the virus to enter. For instance, the human lungs contain tiny air sacs known as alveoli.

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These are responsible for the exchange of oxygen between lungs and blood vessels. These alveoli are rich in the ACE2 receptors. When the virus enters these cells, the immune system mounts an all-out battle against the virus. This disrupts oxygen transfer and makes breathing difficult, accompanied with cough.

The organ that gets affected after lungs is the heart. The disruption extends to the blood which causes blood clots. When this breaks, it can restrict blood supply to the brain. The infection may also lead to blood vessel constriction, causing reduced blood supply to organs. Thus, the virus attacking blood vessels could be one reason why patients with blood pressure and diabetes are at higher risk.

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Kidneys are also vulnerable to the virus. This could be due to reduced blood supply to the kidneys or due to pre-existing diabetes causing fatal damage. Some patients also suffer from neurological problems. It could be seizure-like symptoms, strokes, and at times even depression of brain stem reflex, which is responsible for sensing oxygen starvation. In rare cases, the virus can lead to meningitis and encephalitis.

Therefore, patients who need hospitalisation or ICU care depends on how the body strikes down the virus soon after infection.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 10:38:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/which-organs-does-covid-19-affect-the-most/article31481298.ece

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