Tag Archives: lungs

Coronavirus damages the lungs in severe cases, as well as the heart and kidneys

 This image shows a CT scan from a man with COVID-19. Pneumonia caused by the new severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 can show up as distinctive hazy patches on the outer edges of the lungs, indicated by arrows. 

The new coronavirus causes COVID-19, a respiratory disease that in the most severe cases attacks the lungs, destroying cells and potentially triggering death. Every day we learn new things about the coronavirus, and most of them aren’t pretty. The latest reports suggest that it’s not just the lungs that are attacked, other organs like the kidneys and heart are also severely affected, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

When the virus infects lung cells, it starts replicating. But our immune system doesn’t just wait by idly. It knows that the body is under attack by a foreign invader and, in response, it starts mobilizing the troops — a swarm of antibodies. However, these immune cells don’t just kill infected cells, they can also attack healthy cells, triggering inflammation.

As a result, air sacs in the lungs become swollen and filled with fluid — essentially the patient now has pneumonia and experiences breathing difficulties.

These symptoms also make it challenging for the lungs to pump oxygen in the blood, which can trigger a cascade of problems. Less oxygen naturally triggers more inflammation. All types of tissue, especially organs, require oxygen to function properly. So, with limited oxygen supply, other organs start to fail.

According to Alan Kliger, a nephrologist at Yale School of Medicine, about half of the COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized had blood or protein in their urine, which is a telltale sign of kidney damage.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Kliger added that preliminary data shows that 14% to 30% of intensive-care patients in New York and Wuhan, China, lost kidney function and required dialysis. In China, autopsies on deceased COVID-19 patients found that nine out of 26 had acute kidney injuries.

“That’s a huge number of people who have this problem. That’s new to me,” Kliger said. “I think it’s very possible that the virus attaches to the kidney cells and attacks them.”

There’s also evidence that the virus also attacks the heart. Physicians in both New York and China have reported a similar incidence of myocarditis and irregular heart rhythms that can lead to cardiac arrest in COVID-19 patients. According to a review of ICU cases from China, 40% of patients suffered arrhythmias and 20% had some form of cardiac injury.

Although much rarer, there are reports of liver damage due to COVID-19. There’s one such case in Long Island and five in China, but the small sample size is not enough to draw definite conclusions.

What’s particularly worrisome is the danger of blood clots in the veins of legs and other blood vessels. A study published last week monitored 81 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in a Wuhan hospital, finding that 20 patients had blood clots that traveled to the lungs. lungs. Blood clots in the lungs are particularly dangerous because they can potentially trigger a fatal pulmonary embolism. Eight of the patients died as a result.

In New York, doctors are already treating ICU patients with blood thinners to counter the viral-triggered blood clots.

This kind of damage might be due to a cytokine storm — the overreaction of the body’s immune system that can cause complications and multiple organ failure. Cytokines are small proteins released by many different cells in the body, including those of the immune system where they coordinate the body’s response against infection and trigger inflammation.

Researchers hope to get to the bottom of things by investigating other possible causes of organ and tissue damage. Other causes include respiratory distress, medication, high fever, and the stress of intensive care unit hospitalization.

A person drawing using ink made out of extracts from smoker's lungs. BBDO PROXIMITY THAILAND / THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION

Creative agency makes ink from smokers’ lungs; increases interest in quitting by 500%

For most smokers, the message that cigarettes are fatally bad for their health often doesn’t come across. But if that message came written in ink made from pitch black lungs? It’s a morbid concept, one that was actually followed through by BBDO Proximity Thailand, an agency which commissioned the charcoal ink, part of an anti-smoking effort for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

A person drawing using ink made out of extracts from smoker's lungs.  BBDO PROXIMITY THAILAND / THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION

A person drawing using ink made out of extracts from smoker’s lungs. BBDO PROXIMITY THAILAND / THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION

The agency worked with scientists at the  Chulalongkorn University in Thailand who extracted material from donated longs from deceased smokers. The emotional impact is definitely powerful, so it’s not surprising to hear there were 500% more signups for the foundations smoking cessation program once the campaign went public and viral.

It may be gory, but it worked. According to the government, 47 percent of men and nearly 3 percent of women smoked in 2011, a total of 13 million adults or 24 percent of the population. In the United States, just under 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes.

It’s possible that BBDO was inspired by previous campaigns, since morbidity enticed emotional responses seems to be a thing in advertising right now. Magazine Audio Kultur recently published an issue written in literal blood to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and Vangardist Magazine printed an issue using ink infused with HIV-positive blood.

The Message from the Lungs (Thai Health Promotion Foundation) from Bbdo Proximity Thailand on Vimeo.

Neither vitamin D3 or calcium were found to aid respiratory illnesses. Photo credit: my.opera.com

Vitamin D and calcium supplements don’t ease winter coughs, study finds

To improve health and ease drowsy coughs during winter time, you’ll find that some sources, including physicians, advise that you add supplements to your diet in order to boost your immune system. A team of researchers report, however, after performing a randomized study that taking vitamin D, calcium or both altogether doesn’t offer any significant respiratory improvement.

Neither vitamin D3 or calcium were found to aid respiratory illnesses. Photo credit: my.opera.com

Neither vitamin D3 or calcium were found to aid respiratory illnesses. Photo credit: my.opera.com

The scientists sought to see if there was any connection between taking vitamin D   and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). In order to become relevant, the researchers chose to survey 2259 trial participants, of general health,  aged 45–75 who were administered  vitamin D3 (1000 IU/day), calcium (1200 mg/day), both, or placebo. Of these, 759 participants completed daily symptom diaries throughout the duration of the four-year long study.

[RELATED] Four causes of winter blues and what can you do about them

During winters, those who took vitamin D experienced on average 1.8 days of respiratory-related illness, versus  1.6 days among the placebo group, an insignificant difference by the authors’ account. Regarding the calcium supplements, there was no observable difference  either. It was not associated with the incidence, duration or severity of symptoms, and was equally ineffective when taken with vitamin D.

“Of course there are observational studies that show that vitamin D has various benefits,” said the lead author, Judy R. Rees, an assistant professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth. “But those studies can’t eliminate the effects of lifestyle from causing bias. A randomized trial is designed to avoid those problems, and that’s what I think we did.”

These results were reported in a paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases,

Alright, so it’s not the best news for those already having to deal with mid-winter coughs. Here are some tips you may want to consider though: stay well hydrated (8 glasses of water per day), be sure to get plenty of sunlight exposure (I know it’s cold outside, but at least be sure to keep your window shutters open), avoid eating sugary foods as much as possible, add honey and lemon to a glass of water and sip throughout the day and, of course, be sure to consult with your local physician.