A team of doctors from the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai reviewed the health records of 105 Covid patients hospitalized at Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City between March 26 and April 22.
Of the 105 patients in the study, 32 of them – 31% – had dilated right ventricles based on an echocardiogram or a heart ultrasound. Of these, 41% died at the end of the study period, compared to 11% of those without right ventricular enlargement.
Enlargement of the right ventricle was the only variable that was significantly associated with mortality in this group of Covid-19 patients, according to the study, which was accepted for publication in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“This study provides important evidence that associates right heart pressure with adverse outcomes in hospital patients with COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Edgar Argulian, assistant professor of medicine and lead author of the study.
“Clinicians can use bedside echocardiography as a readily available tool to identify patients with COVID-19 at the highest risk for adverse events in the hospital,” he said in a statement. .
This is not the first time that an association has been found between Covid-19 and right ventricular enlargement. Earlier this month, a series of cases in the New England Journal of Medicine described five seriously ill Covid patients with an enlarged right ventricle.
The reason behind these new discoveries remains unknown. Enlargement of the right ventricle can be caused by obstructed blood flow to the lungs due to blood clots or damage to lung tissue, the authors of the new study say.
Direct damage to heart tissue by the coronavirus can also be a contributing factor, they added. According to the American Heart Association, coronavirus has already been shown to invade heart tissue because heart muscle cells are rich in ACE2 receptors – a molecular gateway used by the coronavirus.