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Heart Rhythm Disorders Seen in Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients

ICU admission tied to incident atrial fibrillation, nonsustained ventricular tachycardias

elderly male patient with respirator

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Critically ill patients with COVID-19 are more likely to develop heart rhythm disorders than other hospitalized patients, according to a study published online June 22 in Heart Rhythm.

Anjali Bhatla, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues reviewed the incidence of cardiac arrests, arrhythmias, and inpatient mortality among 700 COVID-19 patients (mean age 50 years; 45 percent male) admitted to one center over a nine-week period.

The researchers found that 11 percent of patients received care in the intensive care unit (ICU), and there were nine cardiac arrests (all occurring in ICU patients), 25 incident atrial fibrillation (AF) events, nine clinically significant bradyarrhythmias, and 10 nonsustained ventricular tachycardias (NSVTs). Admission to the ICU was associated with incident AF (odds ratio, 4.68) and NSVT (odds ratio, 8.92) in adjusted analysis. There were also independent associations seen between age and incident AF (odds ratio, 1.05) and between prevalent heart failure and bradyarrhythmias (odds ratio, 9.75). In-hospital mortality was only associated with cardiac arrest.

"Cardiac arrests and arrhythmias are likely the consequence of systemic illness and not solely the direct effects of COVID-19 infection," the authors write.

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