Cardiovascular Implications of Fatal Outcomes of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Mar 27;5(7):1-8. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1017. Online ahead of print.


Importance: Increasing numbers of confirmed cases and mortality rates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are occurring in several countries and continents. Information regarding the impact of cardiovascular complication on fatal outcome is scarce.

Objective: To evaluate the association of underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD) and myocardial injury with fatal outcomes in patients with COVID-19.

Design, setting, and participants: This retrospective single-center case series analyzed patients with COVID-19 at the Seventh Hospital of Wuhan City, China, from January 23, 2020, to February 23, 2020. Analysis began February 25, 2020.

Main outcomes and measures: Demographic data, laboratory findings, comorbidities, and treatments were collected and analyzed in patients with and without elevation of troponin T (TnT) levels.

Result: Among 187 patients with confirmed COVID-19, 144 patients (77%) were discharged and 43 patients (23%) died. The mean (SD) age was 58.50 (14.66) years. Overall, 66 (35.3%) had underlying CVD including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cardiomyopathy, and 52 (27.8%) exhibited myocardial injury as indicated by elevated TnT levels. The mortality during hospitalization was 7.62% (8 of 105) for patients without underlying CVD and normal TnT levels, 13.33% (4 of 30) for those with underlying CVD and normal TnT levels, 37.50% (6 of 16) for those without underlying CVD but elevated TnT levels, and 69.44% (25 of 36) for those with underlying CVD and elevated TnTs. Patients with underlying CVD were more likely to exhibit elevation of TnT levels compared with the patients without CVD (36 [54.5%] vs 16 [13.2%]). Plasma TnT levels demonstrated a high and significantly positive linear correlation with plasma high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels (β = 0.530, P < .001) and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels (β = 0.613, P < .001). Plasma TnT and NT-proBNP levels during hospitalization (median [interquartile range (IQR)], 0.307 [0.094-0.600]; 1902.00 [728.35-8100.00]) and impending death (median [IQR], 0.141 [0.058-0.860]; 5375 [1179.50-25695.25]) increased significantly compared with admission values (median [IQR], 0.0355 [0.015-0.102]; 796.90 [401.93-1742.25]) in patients who died (P = .001; P < .001), while no significant dynamic changes of TnT (median [IQR], 0.010 [0.007-0.019]; 0.013 [0.007-0.022]; 0.011 [0.007-0.016]) and NT-proBNP (median [IQR], 352.20 [174.70-636.70]; 433.80 [155.80-1272.60]; 145.40 [63.4-526.50]) was observed in survivors (P = .96; P = .16). During hospitalization, patients with elevated TnT levels had more frequent malignant arrhythmias, and the use of glucocorticoid therapy (37 [71.2%] vs 69 [51.1%]) and mechanical ventilation (41 [59.6%] vs 14 [10.4%]) were higher compared with patients with normal TnT levels. The mortality rates of patients with and without use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers was 36.8% (7 of 19) and 25.6% (43 of 168).

Conclusions and relevance: Myocardial injury is significantly associated with fatal outcome of COVID-19, while the prognosis of patients with underlying CVD but without myocardial injury is relatively favorable. Myocardial injury is associated with cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmias. Inflammation may be a potential mechanism for myocardial injury. Aggressive treatment may be considered for patients at high risk of myocardial injury.