Arthritis and fatty liver disease now being seen in COVID-19 patients


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Doctors are seeing new COVID-19 side effects as the pandemic progresses. Two of the latest are arthritis and fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease has two causes, according to Dr. Albert Do who is the Clinical Director of the Yale Fatty Liver Disease Program. They are excess weight and alcohol consumption. He is seeing more of both as a result of the pandemic.

“Fatty liver disease can set off set off inflammation inside the liver and the issue with that is over the long term scarring develops and severe scarring is also known as cirrhosis. That’s clearly the thing were trying to avoid,” says Dr. Do.

He says even just a ten percent weight loss can help a lot.

“If someone weighs 200 pounds that’s losing 20 pounds is thought to improve fat, inflammation and scarring and if it’s alcohol then reducing or stopping the alcohol,” says Dr. Do.

Inactivity is part of the pandemic.

“It’s challenging because if someone was commuting to work and at least walked around to get to the office and now they basically wake up and go to their home office and work all day, what was some activity before is decreased even more.”

And rheumatologists are seeing arthritis in COVID-19 patients. They say it is common for viruses to cause joint pains, even afterward and fatigue can go on for days.

WEB EXTRA: Full interview of Dr. Richard Bucala discussing arthritis and COVID-19

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus the one that causes COVID-19, the receptor for that virus is also present in joint cells so direct infection and viral arthritis is possible,” says Dr. Richard Bucala, Rheumatologist in Chief with Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital.

Doctor Bucala says people with genetic predisposition or other medical conditions may be more susceptible.

“At Yale one of the things we’re doing is we’re running clinical trials of new patients of new treatments including some of the treatments that have been discovered that might help regulate the immune response in COVID patients,” says Dr. Bucala.

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