Men suffering from heart failure appear to have higher concentrations of a particular protein in the blood which enables the novel coronavirus to infect healthy cells, finds new research. The findings are based on patients in the age group 60-70 from European countries.

The researchers from the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands measured the concentrations of the protein called ACE2 in blood plasma and found that men with heart failure had higher levels of this protein in their plasma. The findings of this study might explain why men suffering from heart failure have a higher risk of death from COVID-19 compared to women.

“When we found that one of the strongest biomarkers, ACE2, was much higher in men than in women, I realized that this had the potential to explain why men were more likely to die from COVID-19 than women,” Dr. Iziah Sama, from University Medical Centre Groningen in The Netherlands, and the study’s first author told Science Focus.

The study:

The research team measured ACE2 blood concentrations in samples collected from two groups of heart failure patients with 1485 men and 537 women in the first group and 1123 men and 575 women in the second group.

Key findings and highlights of the study:

  • ACE2 levels in blood weren’t affected by the drugs commonly taken to keep blood pressure in control.
  • There is no direct link between COVID-19 and ACE2 levels in blood plasma.
  • COVID-19 patients and those with underlying ailments are in a hyperinflammatory state and thereby have a higher concentration of blood ACE2 levels. This makes ACE2 a damage marker and it is found in higher levels in people suffering from heart failure.
  • Those with higher concentrations of ACE2 were more often men and were more likely to be diagnosed with health conditions including atrial fibrillation, diabetes, a higher heart rate, and lower systolic blood pressure.

“These data might explain the higher incidence and fatality rate of COVID-19 in men, but do not support previous reports suggesting that ACE inhibitors or ARBs increase the vulnerability for COVID-19 through increased plasma ACE2 concentrations,” concluded the study.

The main limitation of this study was that the conclusions drawn were mainly restricted to heart failure albeit a group of individuals who had an increased risk for developing COVID-19.

Heart Disease Calorie Cutting Can Reduce Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases Photo: Pixabay/Pexels