Corona Virus is FAR WORSE that we thought - It's Horrible for your Heart

August 02, 2020

It's not "just the flu".  It's not "just a virus".  It's a secret organ killer, and we don't understand yet just where it chooses to strike and how awful it is when it does.  This week's finding is on heart disease.  COVID attacks the heart.

We first had a report in early July from the Cleveland Clinic that cardiomyopathy incidence increased dramatically amongst COVID patients.  Cardiomyopathy is basically the muscle failing.    Their study showed that stress cardiomyopathy increased from 1.8% to 7.8% during the pandemic as they reviewed all their cardiomyopathy patients.  Now, that is terribly alarming because it was simply looking at what showed up.  They had enough patients to look for ordinary cardiomyopathy, that we often toss off as "usually caused by some sort of virus", which was only seen in 1.8% of folks before.  Now, with this COVID pandemic, that incidence quadrupled, and the population did not all have COVID. If everyone had had COVID, what would we see?

That's what this week's German Study reports on.  From 100 patients who had recently recovered from proven COVID, 33% had been hospitalized and 67 were able to recover at home.  They had MRI scans done of their hearts.  What they found was quite remarkable.  Ongoing inflammation showed up in 60% of the patients, who were studied on average 71 days after diagnosis.  Their troponin levels were still elevated above 3 in 71 of the 100 and above 13 in five.  That's enough to diagnose a heart attack!  The MRI scanner can see fibrosis of the heart muscle with so-called T1 and T2 measurements.   60% of the patients showed ongoing inflammation, regardless of pre-existing conditions or severity of illness.  The study leaders actually biopsied the hearts of those with the worst inflammation and found their heart muscle all filled up with lymphocytes.   This is a very important finding as it gets right to the "heart" of it.  COVID-19 damages your heart and results in scar tissue and reduced capability.   All this research is being done on the fly as a pandemic is in progress, so we have no long-term data to look to.  That will come in time.  

We've known COVID attacks the lungs and blood vessels.  We now know is has widespread involvement and damage to hearts.  But that's not all.  Did you know that half of COVID patients show damage to their liver with elevated liver function tests?  Kidneys?  Same thing

This is one nasty virus.  It certainly precipitates severe disease.  Is there a common thread?  I would propose one.  The COVID-19 has a predilection for taking over your NAD fuel system in mitochondria.  Your organs have 2-3000 mitochondria in each cell.  They burn a lot of energy. Your heart has 5000 mitochondria per cell : 30% of the mass of every heart cell is mitochondria.  It has to beat constantly.  Damage the mitochondria and you rip out the energy production that makes the cell work.  As we age, our mitochondria weaken and our ability to maintain our NAD supply weakens.  NAD comes from Vitamin B3 but it is essentially lacking as we get older.  COVID loves NAD.  What little there is, it gobbles up and uses for its own duplication.

Whoa!  That suggests a clue to help yourself.  If you are low on NAD, would it help to take more as a supplement?   Who knows.  Hasn't been studied.  If you had no other options, would you give it a whirl?

WWW: What will work for me.  David Sinclair has shown us that NAD supplementation is a critical anti-aging strategy.  If you are over 50, you should be on NAD-Riboside and NMN, for the rest of your life.  But now, with COVID, should you be on more?  I think it goes right to the biology of how COVID causes its damage.  So, I'm taking it every day.  And hearing this story helps me double down and increase my vigilance against getting it.  I'm getting much more patient with myself and doing much better wearing my mask.

References:  USA Today, JAMA Network Open, JAMA Cardiology, UEG Journal, Preprints, Nadovim

Pop Quiz

1.  If you are a person who gets COVID, what is the likelihood that your heart will show heart damage by MRI scan?   Answer: 60% if you measure those who had symptoms and documented disease.  We don't know about those who didn't realize they got the disease.  I suspect 10 years from now we will have studies on those who never realized they were sick but got a blood test that showed that they had had it.   I bet the number won't be zero.

2.  What is the likelihood that someone who didn't show any symptoms has heart damage?    Answer:  We don't know but it may not be zero.

3.  Is heart the only organ that is damaged?   Answer:   No.  Virtually every specialty is detailing how its organ is being damaged. There is certainly live and kidney damage.

4.  What is the unifying hypothesis that weaves these all together?   Answer: Damaged mitochondria with the known hijacking of NAD that viruses do, and COVID does exceptionally well.

5.  What happens if I take NAD as a supplement?    Answer.   To give an honest answer is going to take a randomized trial, which we don't have right now.   It is a known nutrient that declines with aging and its use as an antiaging supplement is well established.  Its use with COVID is conjectural, but taking it has no known harm, and certainly has benefit for antiaging purposes.