Cardiac arrhythmias in patients with COVID-19: Lessons from 2300 telemetric monitoring days on the intensive care unit

J Electrocardiol. May-Jun 2021;66:102-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jelectrocard.2021.04.001. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Abstract

Background: Patients with COVID-19 seem to be prone to the development of arrhythmias. The objective of this trial was to determine the characteristics, clinical significance and therapeutic consequences of these arrhythmias in COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care unit (ICU) treatment.

Methods and results: A total of 113 consecutive patients (mean age 64.1 ± 14.3 years, 30 (26.5%) female) with positive PCR testing for SARS-CoV2 as well as radiographically confirmed pulmonary involvement admitted to the ICU from March to May 2020 were included and observed for a cumulative time of 2321 days. Fifty episodes of sustained atrial tachycardias, five episodes of sustained ventricular arrhythmias and thirty bradycardic events were documented. Sustained new onset atrial arrhythmias were associated with hemodynamic deterioration in 13 cases (35.1%). Patients with new onset atrial arrhythmias were older, showed higher levels of Hs-Troponin and NT-proBNP, and a more severe course of disease. The 5 ventricular arrhythmias (two ventricular tachycardias, two episodes of ventricular fibrillation, and one torsade de pointes tachycardia) were observed in 4 patients. All episodes could be terminated by immediate defibrillation/cardioversion. Five bradycardic events were associated with hemodynamic deterioration. Precipitating factors could be identified in 19 of 30 episodes (63.3%), no patient required cardiac pacing. Baseline characteristics were not significantly different between patients with or without bradycardic events.

Conclusion: Relevant arrhythmias are common in severely ill ICU patients with COVID-19. They are associated with worse courses of disease and require specific treatment. This makes daily close monitoring of telemetric data mandatory in this patient group.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; COVID-19; Intensive care unit; Sars cov 2; Telemetric ECG monitoring; Ventricular tachycardia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • COVID-19*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2

Substances

  • RNA, Viral