Although patients with cardiovascular disease face excess risks of severe illness with coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), there may be indirect consequences of the pandemic on this high-risk patient segment.
This study sought to examine longitudinal trends in hospitalizations for acute cardiovascular conditions across a tertiary care health system.
Acute cardiovascular hospitalizations were tracked between January 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020. Daily hospitalization rates were estimated using negative binomial models. Temporal trends in hospitalization rates were compared across the first 3 months of 2020, with the first 3 months of 2019 as a reference.
From January 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, 6,083 patients experienced 7,187 hospitalizations for primary acute cardiovascular reasons. There were 43.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 27.4% to 56.0%) fewer estimated daily hospitalizations in March 2020 compared with March 2019 (p < 0.001). The daily rate of hospitalizations did not change throughout 2019 (-0.01% per day [95% CI: -0.04% to +0.02%]; p = 0.50), January 2020 (-0.5% per day [95% CI: -1.6% to +0.5%]; p = 0.31), or February 2020 (+0.7% per day [95% CI: -0.6% to +2.0%]; p = 0.27). There was significant daily decline in hospitalizations in March 2020 (-5.9% per day [95% CI: -7.6% to -4.3%]; p < 0.001). Length of stay was shorter (4.8 days [25th to 75th percentiles: 2.4 to 8.3 days] vs. 6.0 days [25th to 75th percentiles: 3.1 to 9.6 days]; p = 0.003) and in-hospital mortality was not significantly different (6.2% vs. 4.4%; p = 0.30) in March 2020 compared with March 2019.
During the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a marked decline in acute cardiovascular hospitalizations, and patients who were admitted had shorter lengths of stay. These data substantiate concerns that acute care of cardiovascular conditions may be delayed, deferred, or abbreviated during the COVID-19 pandemic.