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Cardiac Arrest is Common in Severe COVID-19 Patients Who are Hospitalized

A study found that 14% of them experienced cardiac arrest within two weeks of being admitted to the ICU.

Investigators looking at the data of more than 5000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients found that 14 percent of them experienced cardiac arrest within 2 weeks of being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

This comes from an observational study led by experts at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital that leveraged data from 68 hospitals across the United States, with COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU.

The results show that of the 5019 critically ill patients (aged 18 years or over) 701 of them had an in-hospital cardiac arrest within 14 days of admission to the ICU, of whom only 400 (57%) received CPR.

The findings were published in The BMJ.

Patients who received CPR were younger than those who did not (average age 61 v 67 years). Among those who did receive CPR, only 12% (48 out of 400) survived to hospital discharge, and only 7% (28 out of 400) did so with normal or mildly impaired neurological status.

Most patients who survived to hospital discharge needed only a short course of CPR. Survival also differed by age, with 21% of patients younger than 45 years surviving compared with 3% of those aged 80 or older.

"Cardiac arrest is common in older patients with COVID-19, and survival rates after an arrest are poor," lead study author Salim Hayek, MD, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Michigan Medicine and a cardiologist at the Frankel CVC said. "This is the first multicenter study to investigate in-hospital cardiac arrest in people with COVID-19 infection."

Limitations to the study included the inability to assess the quality and timeliness of CPR and limiting data to the first 14 days after ICU admission, potentially underestimating the true rate of cardiac arrest.

Nonetheless, the investigators concluded the cardiac arrest was common in severe COVID-19 patients.

"Our study data could help inform patients, family members, and clinicians in complex decision making about patients with covid-19 who are at risk of cardiac arrest or who have experienced cardiac arrest," they wrote.