A recent study conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine has revealed a concerning link between COVID-19 infection and the progression of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). The researchers analyzed the medical records of AAA patients aged 50 years and older, investigating the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 infection and the clinical outcomes of AAA. They also explored the influence of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins on experimental AAA progression.
Out of the 175 AAA patients in the study, 26 had a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The analysis showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with rapid AAA enlargement, exceeding 2.7 mm per year. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, SARS-CoV-2 infection emerged as a significant risk factor for rapid AAA enlargement, along with other factors such as chronic kidney disease and a history of smoking.
The researchers also conducted experimental studies on mice, injecting them with SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins. The results revealed that the spike proteins accelerated AAA progression in wild-type mice and diminished AAA attenuation in human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 transgenic mice.
These findings have significant implications, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 infection may promote AAA progression. However, the researchers emphasize the need for further validation studies to confirm these associations and determine if modifications to AAA screening and intervention criteria are necessary during or after COVID-19 infection.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are characterized by a swelling in the aorta, the main artery responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the abdomen. While most aneurysms do not cause symptoms, they can rupture and lead to severe complications. Factors contributing to AAA development include atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Recognizing the symptoms of AAA, such as chest or abdominal pain, lower back pain, or flank pain, is crucial for early detection and intervention.
In conclusion, the recent findings from Stanford University School of Medicine emphasize the need to explore the broader health implications of COVID-19 infection. As the world continues to face the consequences of the pandemic, further research is necessary to understand the potential long-term cardiovascular effects of the virus. This study urges healthcare professionals to remain vigilant and adapt screening and intervention strategies accordingly.
The study’s findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal JVS-Vascular Science.