Cardiovascular risk factors linked to COVID-19 complications and death

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COVID-19 patients with cardiovascular comorbidities or risk factors are more likely to develop cardiovascular complications while hospitalised, and more likely to die from COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.

For most people, the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes mild illness, however it can generate severe pneumonia and lead to death in others. It is crucial for clinicians working with cardiovascular patients to understand the clinical presentation and risk factors for COVID-19 infection in this group.

In the study Jolanda Sabatino of Universita degli Studi Magna Graecia di Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy, and colleagues analysed data from 21 published observational studies on a total of 77,317 hospitalised COVID-19 patients in Asia, Europe and the USA. At the time they were admitted to the hospital, 12.89% (95% CI 8.24-18.32) of the patients had cardiovascular comorbidities, 36.08% (95% CI 20.25-53.64) had hypertension and 19.45% (95% CI 12.55-27.45) had diabetes.

Cardiovascular complications were documented during the hospital stay of 14.09% (95% CI 10.26-20.23) of the COVID-19 patients. The most common of these complications were arrhythmias or palpitations; significant numbers of patients also had myocardial injury. When the researchers analysed the data, they found that pre-existing cardiovascular comorbidities or risk factors were significant predictors of cardiovascular complications (p=0.019), but age (p=0.197) and gender (p=0.173) were not. Both age and pre-existing cardiovascular comorbidities or risk factors were significant predictors of death.

The authors add: “Cardiovascular complications are frequent among COVID-19 patients and might contribute to adverse clinical events and mortality.”


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