COVID-19 Linked to Multiple Cardiovascular Presentations


What your doctor is reading on

APRIL 06, 2020 — It’s becoming clear that COVID-19 infection can involve the cardiovascular system in many different ways, and this has “evolving” potential implications for treatment, say a team of cardiologists on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle in New York City.

In an article published online April 3 in Circulation, Justin Fried, MD, Division of Cardiology, Columbia University, New York City, and colleagues present four case studies of COVID-19 patients with various cardiovascular presentations.

Case 1 is a 64-year-old woman whose predominant symptoms on admission were cardiac in nature, including chest pain and ST elevation, but without fever, cough, or other symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

“In patients presenting with what appears to be a typical cardiac syndrome, COVID-19 infection should be in the differential during the current pandemic, even in the absence of fever or cough,” the clinicians advise.

Case 2 is a 38-year-old man with cardiogenic shock and acute respiratory distress with profound hypoxia who was rescued with veno-arterial-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV ECMO).

The initial presentation of this patient was more characteristic of severe COVID-19 disease, and cardiac involvement only became apparent after the initiation of ECMO, Fried and colleagues report.

Based on this case, they advise a “low threshold” to assess for cardiogenic shock in patients with acute systolic heart failure related to COVID-19. If inotropic support fails in these patients, intra-aortic balloon pump should be considered first for mechanical circulatory support because it requires the least maintenance from medical support staff.

In addition, in their experience, when a patient on VV ECMO develops superimposed cardiogenic shock, adding an arterial conduit at a relatively low blood flow rate may provide the necessary circulatory support without inducing left ventricular distension, they note.

“Our experience confirms that rescue of patients even with profound cardiogenic or mixed shock may be possible with temporary hemodynamic support at centers with availability of such devices,” Fried and colleagues report.

Case 3 is a 64-year-old woman with underlying cardiac disease who developed profound decompensation with COVID-19 infection.

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