Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality of patients with STEMI: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Heart. 2020 Dec 17;heartjnl-2020-318360. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2020-318360. Online ahead of print.


Aims: Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, hospitals reported declining numbers of patients admitted with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), indicating that the pandemic might keep patients from seeking urgent medical treatment. However, data on outcomes and mortality rates are inconsistent between studies.

Methods: A literature search and meta-analysis were performed on studies reporting the mortality of patients with STEMI admitted before and during the COVID-19 pandemic using PubMed, Embase and Web of Science. Additionally, prehospital and intrahospital delay times were evaluated.

Results: Outcomes of a total of 50 123 patients from 10 studies were assessed. Our study revealed that, despite a significant reduction in overall admission rates of patients with STEMI during the COVID-19 pandemic (incidence rate ratio=0.789, 95% CI 0.730 to 0.852, I2=77%, p<0.01), there was no significant difference in hospital mortality (OR=1.178, 95% CI 0.926 to 1.498, I2=57%, p=0.01) compared with patients with STEMI admitted before the outbreak. Time from the onset of symptoms to first medical contact was similar (mean difference (MD)=33.4 min, 95% CI -10.2 to 77.1, I2=88%, p<0.01) while door-to-balloon time was significantly prolonged in those presenting during the pandemic (MD=7.3 min, 95% CI 3.0 to 11.7, I2=95%, p<0.01).

Conclusion: The significant reduction in admission of patients with STEMI was not associated with a significant increase of hospital mortality rates. The causes for reduced incidence rates remain speculative. However, the analysed data indicate that acute and timely medical care of these patients has been maintained during the pandemic in most countries. Long-term data on mortality have yet to be determined.

Keywords: acute coronary syndrome; epidemiology; meta-analysis; systematic reviews as topic.