Severely-ill corona patients may be 10 times more likely to suffer cardiac arrest

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Contrary to what was believed initially, the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, does not only affect the lungs or the respiratory system.

As the disease spread across the world, it was found that the novel coronavirus may affect most vital organs – including the heart, kidneys, liver, etc, and can in fact damage blood vessels causing damage to almost any part of the body.

Reports of the virus affecting the nervous system also came in recently, which have only solidified the claims and reasons to take the virus seriously.

According to a recent report, COVID-19 patients who are admitted to an ICU due to severity of the illness are ten times more likely than others to be hospitalised with the viral infection, suffer a cardiac arrest, or heart rhythm disorders, according to a new study.

Researchers from various institutes, including those from the University of Pennsylvania, IS, said that these issues are common among severely-ill patients due to COVID-19, and are triggered due to a severe form of the disease, and not just the viral infection.

The findings of the study were published in the Heart Rhythm Journal.

These findings differ significantly from reports that showed a high number of arrhythmias among all COVID—19 patients, according to scientists. These results may provide more clarity about the role of the virus and the diseases and complications it leads to.

“In order to best protect and treat patients who develop Covid-19, it’s critical for us to improve our understanding of how the disease affects various organs and pathways within our body — including our heart rhythm abnormalities,” said study senior author Rajat Deo from the University of Pennsylvania.
“Our findings suggest that non-cardiac causes such as systemic infection, inflammation, and illness are likely to contribute more to the occurrence of cardiac arrest and arrhythmias than damaged or infected heart cells due to the viral infection,” Deo said, reported PTI.

To understand the risk, and incidence of cardiac arrest among patients hospitalised due to COVID-19, the Penn team evaluated 700 patients.

Researchers studied cardiac telemetry and clinical records for patient demographics and medical comorbidities, such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease and recorded all-important patient details, test results and treatment. The average age of these patients was 50 years.

Researchers identified 53 arrhythmic events, 9 patients who suffered cardiac arrest, 25 patients with atrial fibrillation, 9 with bradyarrhythmias and 10 non-sustained ventricular tachycardia events. Of the 700 patients hospitalised, about 11 per cent were admitted to the ICU. None of the other hospitalised patients suffered a cardiac arrest.

After controlling for underlying demographic and clinical factors, researchers found that cardiac arrest and arrhythmia were more likely to occur among patients in an ICU, as compared to other hospitalised patients.

“More research is needed to assess whether the presence of cardiac arrhythmias has long-term health effects on patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19,” Deo said.

“In the meantime, it’s important that we launch studies to evaluate the most effective and safest strategies for long-term anticoagulation and rhythm management in this population.”