The team tracked data from more than 2,700 patients admitted to one of five New York City hospitals with a confirmed case of COVID-19. All patients were treated from Feb. 27 to April 12, 2020, and the median patient age was 66 years old. In addition, approximately 25% of the cohort had a history of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
Overall, troponin levels in the patients’ blood revealed that even minor myocardial injuries were associated with a lower likelihood of being discharged from the hospital. And, the authors added, the risk of death is up to three times higher when the myocardial injury was severe enough.
“We found that 36% of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 had elevated troponin levels—which represents heart injury—and were at higher risk of death,” lead author Anu Lala, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a statement. “These findings, which are consistent with reports from China and Europe, are important for clinicians. If COVID-19-positive patients arrive in the emergency room and their initial test results show troponin levels are elevated, doctors may be able to better triage these patients and watch over them more closely, but this remains a testable hypothesis.”
“The study concludes that myocardial injury is common among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 but is more often mild and associated with low-level troponin elevation,” Lala added. “Despite low levels, even small amounts of heart injury could be linked to a pronounced risk of death, and COVID-19 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease are more likely to have myocardial injury when compared to patients without heart disease.”