The relatively unknown and unpredictable nature of Coronavirus has left our global healthcare providers ill-equipped to tackle the vast demand and devastation experienced around the world.
Primarily considered life threatening for its effects on the lungs, a new study published in JAMA Cardiology finds COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, can also cause irreparable cardiac damage and arrhythmias, even in people with no underlying heart issues.
An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is now being used as a frontline protocol to determine the correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment. All patients in whom COVID-19 is suspected should have an electrocardiogram performed at the time of entry into healthcare.
"An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress."
"The study (JAMA Cardiology), which examined 187 COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China, showed that 28% of patients developed a myocardial injury, which was significantly associated with a higher risk of death. About 70% of patients that had both underlying heart disease and a heart injury from the virus died."
Cardiovascular Implications Post Pandemic
Recovered COVID-19 patients could have long-term effects from cardiac damage. The subsequent monitoring and treatment will fuel a new wave of further healthcare demands, even after the pandemic calms. As this is a very new virus, medical professionals are turning to trends from previous viruses.
"A follow-up survey (12 years) of recovered patients who were previously infected with SARS-CoV (which has a similar structure to SARS-CoV-2) demonstrated that 44% had cardiovascular system abnormalities, 60% had glucose metabolism disorders, and 68% had hyperlipidaemia."
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that in each of the nine large U.S. hospitals, the number of heart attack patients being treated had dropped significantly. Since March 1, the hospitals have seen an average 38% reduction in cardiac catheterisation lab 'activations' - despite an increase in heart attacks expected due to heightened environmental and psychosocial stressors, and a higher case of STEMI induced by viral illness.
A backlog has been created, as global healthcare services are overwhelmed by the influx of infected patients, leading to other treatments going on hold. This has quickly highlighted that the current monitoring methods are not designed to cater for such vast demand.
A perfect example of this is through traditional ECG machines. Although critical, they are a laborious, time consuming and intimate task for patient and medic. They also take up valuable, scarce resources whilst increasing the risk (viral load) for both individuals.
COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Telemedicine
Covid-19 is rapidly displaying the need for the introduction of remote monitoring (telemedicine) via accurate, portable technology.
Remote monitoring provides a complete picture of the patient over a long period of time. With the technology built into consumer wearables, it can provide a doctor with access to information about the patient’s health prior to any illness. This complete picture will lead to more informed diagnoses and decisions.
Creating a hospital-at-home environment through the use of medically trusted, innovative, and efficient remote monitoring solutions is critical for vulnerable patients as well as providing support to the healthcare services.
The accurate and efficient monitoring of patients remotely before, during and after infection is crucial for reducing pressure on medical resources, prioritising and improving treatment, and ultimately saving lives.
The World Health Organisation cited telemedicine among the essential services in "strengthening the health systems response to COVID-19."
Telemedicine provides great peace of mind to those who are vulnerable at home, as well as those who are not infected but waiting for treatment or surgery of an unrelated condition.
HeartKey® Accurately Monitors Cardiac Activity
B-Secur are currently supporting several NHS medical test facilities with our technology and ECG expertise.
Our HeartKey® technology is perfectly positioned to accurately monitor the cardiac activity, arrhythmia, and physiological stress levels of those who are vulnerable through a variety of devices.