The Chinese Society of Cardiology (CSC) has issued a consensus statement on the management of cardiac emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document first appeared in the Chinese Journal of Cardiology, and a translated version was published online.
The consensus statement was developed by 125 medical experts in the fields of cardiovascular disease and infectious disease. This included 23 experts currently working in Wuhan, China.
Three overarching principles guided their recommendations:
- The highest priority is prevention and control of transmission (including protecting staff)
- Patients should be assessed both for COVID-19 and for cardiovascular issues
- At all times, all interventions and therapies provided should be in concordance with directives of infection control authorities.
“Considering that some asymptomatic patients may be a source of infection and transmission, all patients with severe emergent cardiovascular diseases should be managed as suspected cases of COVID-19 in Hubei Province,” notes writing chair and cardiologist Yaling Han, MD, General Hospital of Northern Theater Command, Shenyang, China.
In areas outside Hubei Province, where COVID-19 was less prevalent, this “infected until proven otherwise” approach was also recommended, although not as strictly.
Diagnosing CVD and COVID-19 Simultaneously
In patients with emergent cardiovascular needs in whom COVID-19 has not been ruled out, quarantine in a single-bed room is needed, they write. The patient should be monitored for clinical manifestations of the disease, and undergo COVID-19 nucleic acid testing as soon as possible.
After infection control is considered, including limiting risk for infection to healthcare workers, risk assessment that weighs the relative advantages and disadvantages of treating the cardiovascular disease while preventing transmission can be considered, write Han et al.
At all times, transfers to different areas of the hospital and between hospitals should be minimized to reduce the risk for infection transmission.
The authors also recommend the use of “select laboratory tests with definitive sensitivity and specificity for disease diagnosis or assessment.”
For patients with acute aortic syndrome or acute pulmonary embolism, this means CT angiography. When acute pulmonary embolism is suspected, D-dimer testing and deep vein ultrasound can be employed, and for patients with acute coronary syndrome, ordinary electrocardiography and standard biomarkers for cardiac injury are preferred.