Potential Effects of Coronaviruses on the Cardiovascular System: A Review

JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Mar 27. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1286. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Importance: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reached a pandemic level. Coronaviruses are known to affect the cardiovascular system. We review the basics of coronaviruses, with a focus on COVID-19, along with their effects on the cardiovascular system.

Observations: Coronavirus disease 2019 can cause a viral pneumonia with additional extrapulmonary manifestations and complications. A large proportion of patients have underlying cardiovascular disease and/or cardiac risk factors. Factors associated with mortality include male sex, advanced age, and presence of comorbidities including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and cerebrovascular diseases. Acute cardiac injury determined by elevated high-sensitivity troponin levels is commonly observed in severe cases and is strongly associated with mortality. Acute respiratory distress syndrome is also strongly associated with mortality.

Conclusions and relevance: Coronavirus disease 2019 is associated with a high inflammatory burden that can induce vascular inflammation, myocarditis, and cardiac arrhythmias. Extensive efforts are underway to find specific vaccines and antivirals against SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile, cardiovascular risk factors and conditions should be judiciously controlled per evidence-based guidelines.