Science

Congenital heart disease patients at low risk of developing severe Covid-19: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 15, 2020 Published on October 15, 2020

‘While the sample size is small, the results imply that specific congenital heart lesions may not be cause enough for severe Covid-19 infection’

A new study based on the retrospective analysis of people who were born with underlying heart conditions suggests that these people have low chances of developing moderate or severe symptoms of the coronavirus.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

For the study, researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City analysed the impact of Covid-19 infection on patients with congenital heart disease (CHD).

The researchers followed over 7,000 adult and paediatric patients born with a heart defect. Fifty-three CHD patients (median age 34) with Covid-19 infection were reported at their centre between March and July 2020.

Also read: Covid-19 damages heart muscles like no other disease, study finds

The researchers explained: “At the beginning of the pandemic, many feared that congenital heart disease would be as big a risk factor for Covid-19 as adult-onset cardiovascular disease. However, they are reassured by the low number of patients treated at their centre and the patients’ outcomes.”

Among the 43 adults and 10 children with congenital heart defect infected with Covid-19, additional characteristics included: 58 per cent had complex congenital anatomy, 15 per cent had a genetic syndrome, 11 per cent had pulmonary hypertension, and 17 per cent had obesity.

Their findings revealed the presence of a concurrent genetic syndrome in all patients and advanced physiologic stages in adult patients increased the risk of symptom severity.

The researchers observed that five patients had trisomy 21 (an extra chromosome at position 21), four patients had Eisenmenger's syndrome (abnormal blood circulation caused by structural defects in the heart), and two patients had DiGeorge syndrome (a condition caused by the deletion of a segment of chromosome 22). Nearly all patients with trisomy 21 and DiGeorge syndrome had moderate/severe Covid-19 symptoms.

As for outcomes among all 53 patients with CHD, nine patients (17 per cent) had a moderate/severe infection, and three patients (6 per cent) died.

Limitations

The researchers also noted the limitations of their study.

They wrote: “While our sample size is small, these results imply that specific congenital heart lesions may not be sufficient cause alone for severe Covid-19 infection.”

Also read: Covid-19’s ‘heart of darkness’

“While it is possible that our patient population exercised stricter adherence to social distancing, given early publicised concerns about cardiac risk, these early results appear reassuring,” they added.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that despite evidence that adult-onset cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for worse outcomes among patients with Covid-19, patients with CHD without the concomitant genetic syndrome, and adults who are not at an advanced physiological stage, do not appear to be disproportionately impacted.

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Published on October 15, 2020
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