Original Research

Acute STEMI During the COVID-19 Pandemic at a Regional Hospital: Incidence, Clinical Characteristics, and Outcomes


 

References

From the Department of Medicine, Medical College of Georgia at the Augusta University-University of Georgia Medical Partnership, Athens, GA (Syed H. Ali, Syed Hyder, and Dr. Murrow), and the Department of Cardiology, Piedmont Heart Institute, Piedmont Athens Regional, Athens, GA (Dr. Murrow and Mrs. Davis).

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics and in-hospital outcomes of patients with acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) during the early COVID-19 pandemic at Piedmont Athens Regional (PAR), a 330-bed tertiary referral center in Northeast Georgia.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted at PAR to evaluate patients with acute STEMI admitted over an 8-week period during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. This study group was compared to patients admitted during the corresponding period in 2019. The primary endpoint of this study was defined as a composite of sustained ventricular arrhythmia, congestive heart failure (CHF) with pulmonary congestion, and/or in-hospital mortality.

Results: This study cohort was composed of 64 patients with acute STEMI; 30 patients (46.9%) were hospitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients with STEMI in both the COVID-19 and control groups had similar comorbidities, Killip classification score, and clinical presentations. The median (interquartile range) time from symptom onset to reperfusion (total ischemic time) increased from 99.5 minutes (84.8-132) in 2019 to 149 minutes (96.3-231.8; P = .032) in 2020. Hospitalization during the COVID-19 period was associated with an increased risk for combined in-hospital outcome (odds ratio, 3.96; P = .046).

Conclusion: Patients with STEMI admitted during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak experienced longer total ischemic time and increased risk for combined in-hospital outcomes compared to patients admitted during the corresponding period in 2019.

Keywords: myocardial infarction, acute coronary syndrome, hospitalization, outcomes.

Acute STEMI During the COVID-19 Pandemic at a Regional Hospital: Incidence, Clinical Characteristics, and Outcomes

The emergence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus in December 2019 caused a worldwide shift in resource allocation and the restructuring of health care systems within the span of a few months. With the rapid spread of infection, the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic in March 2020. The pandemic led to the deferral and cancellation of in-person patient visits, routine diagnostic studies, and nonessential surgeries and procedures. This response occurred secondary to a joint effort to reduce transmission via stay-at-home mandates and appropriate social distancing.1

Alongside the reduction in elective procedures and health care visits, significant reductions in hospitalization rates due to decreases in acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and catheterization laboratory utilization have been reported in many studies from around the world.2-7 Comprehensive data demonstrating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on acute STEMI patient characteristics, clinical presentation, and in-hospital outcomes are lacking. Although patients with previously diagnosed cardiovascular disease are more likely to encounter worse outcomes in the setting of COVID-19, there may also be an indirect impact of the pandemic on high-risk patients, including those without the infection.8 Several theories have been hypothesized to explain this phenomenon. One theory postulates that the fear of contracting the virus during hospitalization is great enough to prevent patients from seeking care.2 Another theory suggests that the increased utilization of telemedicine prevents exacerbation of chronic conditions and the need for hospitalization.9 Contrary to this trend, previous studies have shown an increased incidence of acute STEMI following stressful events such as natural disasters.10

The aim of this study was to describe trends pertaining to clinical characteristics and in-hospital outcomes of patients with acute STEMI during the early COVID-19 pandemic at Piedmont Athens Regional (PAR), a 330-bed tertiary referral center in Northeast Georgia.

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