En español | If the lungs are ground zero for COVID-19, doctors are starting to learn more about the how the disease caused by the new coronavirus affects organs throughout the body. Many COVID-19 infections, for instance, involve heart damage — often swift and serious enough to cause heart failure or heart attacks. Increasingly, potentially fatal complications are understood to affect not only the heart, but the kidneys and brain, too, by way of acute infections or strokes.
As the path the virus takes through the body also starts to come into focus, doctors are gaining insight into how responses such as inflammation, or an immune system gone haywire, can lead to system-wide challenges made worse by underlying factors like diabetes or high blood pressure. Here is what the virus looks like in different parts of the body, and how experts say you can best protect yourself — whether you’re concerned about lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or uncontrolled hypertension.