Electrocardiographic manifestations of COVID-19

Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Mar;41:96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.12.060. Epub 2020 Dec 29.

Abstract

Introduction: Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) is a lower respiratory tract infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This disease can impact the cardiovascular system and lead to abnormal electrocardiographic (ECG) findings. Emergency clinicians must be aware of the ECG manifestations of COVID-19.

Objective: This narrative review outlines the pathophysiology and electrocardiographic findings associated with COVID-19.

Discussion: COVID-19 is a potentially critical illness associated with a variety of ECG abnormalities, with up to 90% of critically ill patients demonstrating at least one abnormality. The ECG abnormalities in COVID-19 may be due to cytokine storm, hypoxic injury, electrolyte abnormalities, plaque rupture, coronary spasm, microthrombi, or direct endothelial or myocardial injury. While sinus tachycardia is the most common abnormality, others include supraventricular tachycardias such as atrial fibrillation or flutter, ventricular arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, various bradycardias, interval and axis changes, and ST segment and T wave changes. Several ECG presentations are associated with poor outcome, including atrial fibrillation, QT interval prolongation, ST segment and T wave changes, and ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation.

Conclusions: This review summarizes the relevant ECG findings associated with COVID-19. Knowledge of these findings in COVID-19-related electrocardiographic presentations may assist emergency clinicians in the evaluation and management of potentially infected and infected patients.

Keywords: Arrhythmia; COVID-19; Cardiac; Coronavirus; Dysrhythmia; ECG; EKG; Electrocardiogram; Emergency medicine; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology*
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism / virology
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2