Introduction: This study aims to assess prevalence and prognostic implications of pre-existing peripheral artery disease (PAD) in patients infected by the SARS-CoV-2 by means of a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Material and methods: We searched MEDLINE and Scopus to locate all the articles published up to 10 December 2021, reporting data on pre-existing PAD among COVID-19 survivors (S) and non survivors (NS). The pooled prevalence of pre-existing PAD in COVID-19 patients was calculated using a random effects model and presenting the related 95% confidence interval (CI), while the mortality risk was estimated using the Mantel-Haenszel random effects models with odds ratio (OR) and related 95% CI. Statistical heterogeneity was measured using the Higgins I2 statistic.
Results: Eight investigations, enrolling 13,776 COVID-19 patients (mean age: 67.1 years, 3.863 males), met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final analysis. The pooled prevalence of pre-existing PAD was 5.7% of cases (95% CI: 3.8-8.4%, p < 0.0001), with high heterogeneity (I2 = 84.5%), which was directly correlated with age (p < 0.0001), previous hypertension (p = 0.003), and dyslipidaemia (p = 0.02) as demonstrated by the meta-regression. Moreover, pre-existing PAD was significantly associated with higher risk of short-term death in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection (OR: 2.78, 95% CI: 2.37-3.27, p < 0.0001 I2 = 0%); the sensitivity analysis confirmed yielded results.
Conclusions: Pre-existing PAD represents a comorbidity in about 1 out of 6 COVID-19 patients, but it is associated with a twofold higher risk of short-term mortality.
Keywords: COVID-19; Peripheral artery disease; mortality; prevalence.