Heart Failure Nearly Doubles COVID Death Risk

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, January 7, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Patients with acute heart failure are almost twice as likely to die if they contract COVID-19, according to a new study.

“Our results support the prioritization of heart failure patients for COVID-19 vaccination once it becomes available,” said researcher Dr Amardeep Dastidar, consultant interventional cardiologist at the North Bristol NHS Trust and Bristol Heart Institute in England. “In the meantime, heart failure patients of all ages should be considered a high risk group and advised to maintain social distancing and wear a face mask to prevent infection.

Heart failure is the progressive weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood and can cause shortness of breath, ankle swelling, and fatigue. The sudden and severe worsening of symptoms is a medical emergency that requires hospitalization.

In an analysis that included 283 patients admitted to a single hospital with acute heart failure, researchers found a substantial but statistically insignificant drop in acute heart failure admissions during the pandemic.

In the eight weeks leading up to COVID, 164 patients were admitted, compared to 119 patients after COVID, according to the study published Jan. 7 in the journal ESC heart failure.

“This finding may reflect public concerns about social distancing at the start of the national lockdown, the postponement of symptoms and anxiety about hospital attendance,” Dastidar said in a press release. “In support of these explanations, our data demonstrates an increase in referrals in the last few weeks of lockdown, in line with UK media reports encouraging patients to see a doctor if necessary.

The number of deaths of patients with acute heart failure nearly doubled during the pandemic. About 11% of patients in the pre-COVID group died within 30 days, compared to 21% of the post-COVID group, the researchers found.

“This may suggest a direct interaction or a susceptibility to worse outcomes for patients with acute heart failure with superimposed COVID infection,” Dastidar said. “It should be noted that our region had very low rates of COVID infection during the study and yet a link with higher mortality was still apparent.

More information

To learn more about heart failure, see the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, press release, January 7, 2021

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