July 20, 2020 9:53 AM

Study Suggests Cardiovascular Impact of COVID-19 Could be Overstated

Researchers found many instances of respiratory failure and kidney injury, but not heart failure, among COVID-19 patients admitted to ICUs across the country.

drawing of stethoscope
Image by Stephanie King.

A new cohort study investigated which risk factors were associated with death in the sickest patients with COVID-19.

“This large study, which encompasses patients admitted to ICUs across the country, highlights COVID-19 in its severe form as predominantly impacting the lungs and kidneys,” says co-author Salim Hayek, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and a cardiologist at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He says the cardiovascular impact of the disease may not be as significant as originally thought.

“While patients with cardiovascular risk factors such as elderly, obese patients and those with hypertension and diabetes mellitus represented a significant proportion of patients with severe COVID-19, heart failure, strokes and heart attacks were not common during their hospitalization.”

Hayek says the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular system are unknown and need to be studied.

The researchers analyzed demographics, comorbidities, organ dysfunction, mortality rates and other data from more than 2,000 patients admitted to one of 65 intensive care units nationwide from March 4 to April 4.

More than one-third of the patients died within 28 days of ICU admission. Mortality rates varied across hospitals.

Hayek says a better understanding of the risk factors for severe COVID-19 could guide triage efforts and the development of new therapies for a pandemic that continues to spread.

Paper cited: “Factors Associated With Death in Critically Ill Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the US.” JAMA Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.3596.