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Critically ill COVID-19 patients 10 times more likely to develop cardiac arrhythmias: study

(Xinhua)    08:53, June 23, 2020

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to an intensive care unit were 10 times more likely than other hospitalized COVID-19 patients to suffer cardiac arrest or heart rhythm disorders, according to a new study published on Monday.

To evaluate the risk and incidence of cardiac arrest and arrhythmias among hospitalized patients with COVID-19, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine evaluated 700 patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to the university's hospital between early March and mid-May.

They identified a total of 53 arrhythmic events: nine patients who suffered cardiac arrest, 25 patients with atrial fibrillation who required treatment, nine patients with clinically significant bradyarrhythmias and 10 non-sustained ventricular tachycardia events.

Of the 700 patients hospitalized, about 11 percent were admitted to the ICU. None of the other hospitalized patients suffered a cardiac arrest.

After controlling for underlying demographic and clinical factors, the researchers found cardiac arrest and arrhythmias were more likely to occur among patients in an ICU compared to the other hospitalized patients, according to the study published in the Heart Rhythm Journal.

The findings provide more clarity about the role of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, in the development of arrhythmias, including irregular heart rate, slow heart rhythms or rapid heart rate that stops by itself within 30 seconds, according to the study.

"More research is needed to assess whether the presence of cardiac arrhythmias have long-term health effects on patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19," said the study's senior and corresponding author Rajat Deo, a cardiac electrophysiologist and an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

"In the meantime, it's important that we launch studies to evaluate the most effective and safest strategies for long-term anticoagulation and rhythm management in this population," Deo said.

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