In a co-authored column in the Toronto Star, U of G Prof. Glen Pyle, Department of Biomedical Sciences, and U of G human kinetics student Lauren Philippi explain why those with existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 infection.
They write that a recent study of COVID-19 patients in China shows that the virus increases the vulnerability of people with these conditions. Historical studies of other viruses found similar results.
“COVID-19 mainly targets the respiratory system, triggering an inflammatory response that fills the lungs with fluid and causes difficulty breathing,” they write. “As lung function becomes limited, oxygen levels in the blood decrease.”
The heart has to work harder to provide sufficient oxygen to the body. The extra demand on the heart may be enough to cause a catastrophic failure.