From the Journals

COVID plus MI confers poor prognosis; 1 in 3 die in hospital


COVID-19 patients with ST-segment elevation MI (STEMI) represent a population with unique demographic and clinical features resulting in a high risk for mortality, according to initial findings from the North American Cardiovascular COVID-19 Myocardial Infarction (NACMI) Registry.

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“This is the largest registry of COVID-positive patients presenting with STEMI [and] the results clearly illustrate the challenges and uniqueness of this patient population that deserves prompt and special attention,” study cochair Timothy Henry, MD, president-elect of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions, said in a news release.

The NACMI registry is a collaborative effort between the SCAI, the American College of Cardiology Interventional Council, and the Canadian Association of Interventional Cardiology.

“The rapid development of this ongoing, critically important prospective registry reflects the strong and unique collaboration of all three societies. It was gratifying to be part of this process and hopefully the results will improve the care of our patients and stimulate further research,” Dr. Henry said in the news release.

The registry has enrolled 1,185 patients presenting with STEMI at 64 sites across the United States and Canada. Participants include 230 COVID-positive STEMI patients; 495 STEMI patients suspected but ultimately confirmed not to have COVID-19; and 460 age-and sex-matched control STEMI patients treated prior to the pandemic who are part of the Midwest STEMI Consortium.

The initial findings from the registry were published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Atypical symptoms may explain high death rate

The primary outcome – a composite of in-hospital death, stroke, recurrent MI, or repeat unplanned revascularization – occurred in 36% of COVID-positive patients, compared with 13% of COVID-negative patients and 5% of control patients (P < .001 relative to controls).

This difference was driven largely by a “very high” in-hospital death rate in COVID-positive patients, lead author Santiago Garcia, MD, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said in an interview.

The in-hospital death rate was 33% in COVID-positive patients, compared with 11% in COVID-negative patients and 4% in controls. Stroke also occurred more often in COVID-positive patients at 3% versus 2% in COVID-negative and 0% in controls.

These initial findings suggest that the combination of STEMI and COVID-19 infection “confers a poor prognosis, with one in three patients succumbing to the disease, even among patients selected for invasive angiography (28% mortality),” the investigators wrote.

The data also show that STEMI in COVID-positive patients disproportionately affects ethnic minorities (23% Hispanic and 24% Black) with diabetes, which was present in 46% of COVID-positive patients.

COVID-positive patients with STEMI are more likely to present with atypical symptoms such as dyspnea (54%), pulmonary infiltrates on chest x-ray (46%), and high-risk conditions such as cardiogenic shock (18%), “which may explain the high fatality rate,” Dr. Garcia said.

Despite these high-risk features, COVID-positive patients are less apt to undergo invasive angiography when compared with COVID-negative and control STEMI patients (78% vs. 96% vs. 100%).

The majority of patients (71%) who did under angiography received primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) with very small treatment delays (at 15 minutes) during the pandemic.

Another notable finding is that “many patients (23%) have ‘no culprit’ vessel and may represent different etiologies of ST-segment elevation including microemboli, myocarditis, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy,” Dr. Garcia said in an interview.

“In line with current guidelines, patients with suspected STEMI should be managed with PPCI, without delay while the safety of health care providers is ensured,” Ran Kornowski, MD, and Katia Orvin, MD, both with Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva, Israel, and Tel Aviv University, wrote in a linked editorial.

“In this case, PPCI should be performed routinely, even if the patient is presumed to have COVID-19, because PPCI should not be postponed. Confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection should not delay urgent decision management concerning reperfusion strategy,” they advised.

Looking ahead, Garcia said plans for the registry include determining predictors of in-hospital mortality and studying demographic and treatment trends as the pandemic continues with more virulent strains of the virus.

Various subgroup analyses are also planned as well as an independent angiographic and electrocardiographic core lab analysis. A comparative analysis of data from the US and Canada is also planned.

This work was supported by an ACC Accreditation Grant, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, and grants from Medtronic and Abbott Vascular to SCAI. Dr. Garcia has received institutional research grants from Edwards Lifesciences, BSCI, Medtronic, and Abbott Vascular; has served as a consultant for Medtronic and BSCI; and has served as a proctor for Edwards Lifesciences. Dr. Kornowski and Dr. Orvin disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on

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