COVID-19 surges linked with spike in heart attacks, Cedars-Sinai finds

Data analysis from the Los Angeles-based Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai found heart attack deaths rose significantly with COVID-19 surges, including omicron surges.

Heart attack deaths were on the decline before the pandemic. However, during COVID-19 surges, deaths increased — especially among individuals ages 25-44, according to an Oct. 24 release shared with Becker's.

"There is something very different about how this virus affects the cardiac risks," Susan Cheng, MD, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute and senior and co-corresponding author of the study, said in the release from Cedars-Sinai. "The difference is likely due to a combination of stress and inflammation, arising from predisposing factors and the way this virus biologically interacts with the cardiovascular system." 

The analysis found the following:

  • Heart attack deaths increased by 14 percent in the first year of the pandemic.

  • The excess in acute myocardial infarction-associated mortality has persisted throughout the pandemic and during the most recent surges.

  • The rise in deaths was most significant for people ages 25-44. The observed compared to predicted rates of heart attack death increased by 29.9 percent for ages 25-44, 19.6 percent for ages 45-65 and 13.7 percent for ages 65 and older.

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