COVID-19-associated heart attacks differ from those in patients without the virus, researchers find

The mechanisms behind COVID-19-related heart attacks may be different from heart attacks occurring in those without the virus, according to research from cardiologists at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center. 

Researchers compared COVID-19 patients who had a heart attack and underwent heart catheterization at the medical center from March to June 2020, to a sample of heart attack patients treated prior to the pandemic. 

The analysis, presented at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions 2021 Virtual Scientific Sessions from April 28 to May 1, found that Syntax scores, a measurement to determine the complexity and extent of blocked arteries, were lower for COVID-19 heart attack patients compared to those who were uninfected. 

Blood clotting was lower among the COVID-19 patients at 33 percent compared to 82 percent among the uninfected group, as well as the absence of visible blockage, which was observed in 37 percent of the COVID-19 patients compared to 6 percent in the other group. 

"Our findings suggest that the mechanisms responsible for COVID-19 associated heart attacks may involve less extensive coronary artery disease and less clotting in major blood vessels," said Zoltan Turi, MD, lead study author and director of cardiovascular research at HUMC's heart and vascular hospital. "This may be a result of the increased demand for oxygen to the heart despite relatively little in the way of blocked arteries and may suggest the potential for a different approach in managing heart attacks in COVID-19 patients."


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