London, January 8 (IANS): Patients with acute heart failure nearly double their risk of dying if they get Covid-19, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, said emphasising the need for patients with heart failure to take extra precautions.
“Our results support prioritising heart failure patients for Covid-19 vaccination once it is available,” said the lead researcher Amardeep Dastidar, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at North Bristol NHS Trust and Bristol Heart Institute, UK.
“In the meantime, heart failure patients of all ages should be considered a high-risk group and be advised to maintain social distance and wear a face mask to prevent infection,” he added.
Heart failure refers to progressive weakening of the heart’s pump function with symptoms of breathlessness, ankle swelling and fatigue. Sudden and severe worsening of symptoms is called acute heart failure — this is a medical emergency and requires admission to hospital for intravenous medication and intensive monitoring.
For the study, the team examined referral rates for acute heart failure during the pandemic and 30-day mortality. The analysis included 283 patients with acute heart failure. Two-thirds of the patients had chronic heart failure and presented with acute deterioration.
There was a substantial, but statistically non-significant, drop in admissions for acute heart failure during the pandemic.
A total of 164 patients were admitted in the eight weeks before-Covid compared to 119 patients after-Covid – a 27 per cent reduction. The 30-day mortality rate of patients with acute heart failure nearly doubled during the pandemic. Some 11 per cent of patients in the before-Covid group died within 30 days compared to 21 per cent of the after-Covid group.
“This may suggest a direct interaction or susceptibility to worse outcomes for acute heart failure patients with superimposed Covid infection,” the researcher said. “It is noteworthy that our region had very low rates of Covid infection during the study and yet a connection with higher mortality was still apparent,” he added.