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Place and causes of acute cardiovascular mortality during the COVID19 pandemic: retrospective cohort study of 580,972 deaths in England and Wales, 2014 to 2020

By Jianhua Wu, Mamas Mamas, Mohamed Mohamed, Chun Shing Kwok, Chris Roebuck, Ben Humberstone, Tom Denwood, Tom Luescher, Mark De Belder, John Deanfield, Chris Gale

Posted 16 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.14.20153734

Importance. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a decline in admissions with cardiovascular (CV) emergencies. The fatal consequences of this are unknown. Objectives - To describe the place and causes of acute CV death during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design - Retrospective nationwide cohort. Setting - England and Wales. Participants - All adult (age [≥]18 years) acute CV deaths (n=580,972) between 1st January 2014 and 2nd June 2020. Exposure - The COVID-19 pandemic (defined as from the onset of the first COVID-19 death in England on 2nd March 2020). Main outcomes - Place (hospital, care home, home) and acute CV events directly contributing to death as stated on the first part of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Results - After 2nd March 2020, there were 22,820 acute CV deaths of which 5.7% related to COVID-19, and an excess acute CV mortality of 1752 (+8%) compared with the expected daily deaths in the same period. Deaths in the community accounted for nearly half of all deaths during this period. Care homes had the greatest increase in excess acute CV deaths (1065, +40%), followed by deaths at home (1728, +34%) and in hospital (57, +0%). The most frequent cause of acute CV death during this period was stroke (8,290, 36.3%), followed by acute coronary syndrome (ACS) (5,532, 24.2%), heart failure (5,280, 23.1%), pulmonary embolism (2,067, 9.1%) and cardiac arrest (1,037, 4.5%). Deep vein thrombosis had the greatest increase in cause of excess acute CV death (18, +25%), followed pulmonary embolism (340, +19%) and stroke (782, +10%). The greatest cause of excess CV death in care homes was stroke (700, +48%), compared with cardiac arrest (80, +56%) at home, and pulmonary embolism (126, +14%) and cardiogenic shock (41, +14%) in hospital. Conclusions and relevance - The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an inflation in acute CV deaths above that expected for the time of year, nearly half of which occurred in the community. The most common cause of acute CV death was stroke followed by acute coronary syndrome and heart failure. This is key information to optimise messaging to the public and enable health resource planning.

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