The aim of the study was to document cardiovascular clinical findings, cardiac imaging and laboratory markers in children presenting with the novel multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 infection.
A real-time internet-based survey endorsed by the Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiologists (AEPC) Working Groups for Cardiac Imaging and Cardiovascular Intensive Care. Inclusion criteria was children 0-18 years admitted to hospital between February 1 and June 6, 2020 with diagnosis of an inflammatory syndrome and acute cardiovascular complications.
A total of 286 children from 55 centers in 17 European countries were included. The median age was 8.4 years (IQR 3.8-12.4 years) and 67% were males. The most common cardiovascular complications were shock, cardiac arrhythmias, pericardial effusion and coronary artery dilatation. Reduced left ventricular ejection fraction was present in over half of the patients and a vast majority of children had raised cardiac troponin (cTnT) when checked. The biochemical markers of inflammation were raised in majority of patients on admission: elevated CRP, serum ferritin, procalcitonin, NT-proBNP, IL-6 level and D-dimers. There was a statistically significant correlation between degree of elevation in cardiac and biochemical parameters and need for intensive care support (p <0.05). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 was positive in 33.6% while IgM and IgG antibodies were positive in 15.7% and IgG 43.6 % cases, respectively when checked. One child died in the study cohort.
Cardiac involvement is common in children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with Covid-19 pandemic. A majority of children have significantly raised levels of NT pro-BNP, ferritin, D-dimers and cardiac troponin in addition to high CRP and procalcitonin levels. Compared to adults with Covid-19, mortality in children with MIS-C is uncommon despite multi-system involvement, very elevated inflammatory markers and need for intensive care support.