CHIK-V AND ME
Why does chik-V impact persons with pre-existing medical conditions more gravely?
A. Many persons with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lung and brain disorders often have a more severe course and may even die when they are infected with chik-V.
We are not sure of all the factors that contribute to this observation. However, the tissues that are typically affected in a chik-V infection include the brain, liver, lymph tissue, muscle cells including heart muscle cells and blood vessels. Typically in these tissues, it is the cells (fibroblasts) that hold these tissues together that are affected by the virus, as well as the cells that line or coat the inner surface of blood vessels called endothelium.
Once a cell becomes infected with chik-V, it is likely to die or function poorly. Many persons with diabetes have poor-functioning blood vessels because of atherosclerosis or plaque because of cholesterol.
Thus chik-V infection makes hypertension, diabetes, and heart conditions worse by weakening the heart muscle, by making blood vessels leaky or by affecting the nerves that control the tissues.
Additionally, an exaggerated immune response can make many medical conditions worse.