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Front Cardiovasc Med ; 8: 764599, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1598692


Background: Acute myocardial damage is common in severe COVID-19. Post-mortem studies have implicated microvascular thrombosis, with cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) demonstrating a high prevalence of myocardial infarction and myocarditis-like scar. The microcirculatory sequelae are incompletely characterized. Perfusion CMR can quantify the stress myocardial blood flow (MBF) and identify its association with infarction and myocarditis. Objectives: To determine the impact of the severe hospitalized COVID-19 on global and regional myocardial perfusion in recovered patients. Methods: A case-control study of previously hospitalized, troponin-positive COVID-19 patients was undertaken. The results were compared with a propensity-matched, pre-COVID chest pain cohort (referred for clinical CMR; angiography subsequently demonstrating unobstructed coronary arteries) and 27 healthy volunteers (HV). The analysis used visual assessment for the regional perfusion defects and AI-based segmentation to derive the global and regional stress and rest MBF. Results: Ninety recovered post-COVID patients {median age 64 [interquartile range (IQR) 54-71] years, 83% male, 44% requiring the intensive care unit (ICU)} underwent adenosine-stress perfusion CMR at a median of 61 (IQR 29-146) days post-discharge. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 67 ± 10%; 10 (11%) with impaired LVEF. Fifty patients (56%) had late gadolinium enhancement (LGE); 15 (17%) had infarct-pattern, 31 (34%) had non-ischemic, and 4 (4.4%) had mixed pattern LGE. Thirty-two patients (36%) had adenosine-induced regional perfusion defects, 26 out of 32 with at least one segment without prior infarction. The global stress MBF in post-COVID patients was similar to the age-, sex- and co-morbidities of the matched controls (2.53 ± 0.77 vs. 2.52 ± 0.79 ml/g/min, p = 0.10), though lower than HV (3.00 ± 0.76 ml/g/min, p< 0.01). Conclusions: After severe hospitalized COVID-19 infection, patients who attended clinical ischemia testing had little evidence of significant microvascular disease at 2 months post-discharge. The high prevalence of regional inducible ischemia and/or infarction (nearly 40%) may suggest that occult coronary disease is an important putative mechanism for troponin elevation in this cohort. This should be considered hypothesis-generating for future studies which combine ischemia and anatomical assessment.