Right ventricular dysfunction in critically ill COVID-19 ARDS

Int J Cardiol. 2021 Mar 15;327:251-258. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2020.11.043. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


Aims: Comprehensive echocardiography assessment of right ventricular (RV) impairment has not been reported in critically ill patients with COVID-19. We detail the specific phenotype and clinical associations of RV impairment in COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Methods: Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) measures of RV function were collected in critically unwell patients for associations with clinical, ventilatory and laboratory data.

Results: Ninety patients (25.6% female), mean age 52.0 ± 10.8 years, veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VVECMO) (42.2%) were studied. A significantly higher proportion of patients were identified as having RV dysfunction by RV fractional area change (FAC) (72.0%,95% confidence interval (CI) 61.0-81.0) and RV velocity time integral (VTI) (86.4%, 95 CI 77.3-93.2) than by tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE) (23.8%, 95 CI 16.0-33.9), RVS' (11.9%, 95% CI 6.6-20.5) or RV free wall strain (FWS) (35.3%, 95% CI 23.6-49.0). RV VTI correlated strongly with RV FAC (p ≤ 0.01). Multivariate regression demonstrated independent associations of RV FAC with NTpro-BNP and PVR. RV-PA coupling correlated with PVR (univariate p < 0.01), as well as RVEDAi (p < 0.01), and RVESAi (p < 0.01), and was associated with P/F ratio (p 0.026), PEEP (p 0.025), and ALT (p 0.028).

Conclusions: Severe COVID-19 ARDS is associated with a specific phenotype of RV radial impairment with sparing of longitudinal function. Clinicians should avoid interpretation of RV health purely on long-axis parameters in these patients. RV-PA coupling potentially provides important additional information above standard measures of RV performance in this cohort.

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; COVID-19; Critical care; Echocardiography; Right ventricle.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnostic imaging
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness*
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / diagnostic imaging
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / etiology*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / physiopathology*