Right Heart Strain on Presenting 12-Lead Electrocardiogram Predicts Critical Illness in COVID-19

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JACC Clin Electrophysiol


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to assess the association of new right heart strain patterns on presenting 12-lead electrocardiogram (RHS-ECG) with outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular comorbidities and complications, including right ventricular dysfunction, are common and are associated with worse outcomes in patients with COVID-19. The data on the clinical usefulness of the 12-lead ECG to aid with prognosis are limited.

METHODS: This study retrospectively evaluated records from 480 patients who were consecutively admitted with COVID-19. ECGs obtained at presentation in the emergency department (ED) were considered index ECGs. RHS-ECG was defined by any new right-axis deviation, S(1)Q(3)T(3) pattern, or ST depressions with T-wave inversions in leads V(1) to V(3) or leads II, III, and aVF. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to assess whether RHS-ECGs were independently associated with primary outcomes.

RESULTS: ECGs from the ED were available for 314 patients who were included in the analysis. Most patients were in sinus rhythm, with sinus tachycardia being the most frequent dysrhythmia. RHS-ECG findings were present in 40 (11%) patients. RHS-ECGs were significantly associated with the incidence of adverse outcomes and an independent predictor of mortality (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR]: 15.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.1 to 45.2; p < 0.001), the need for mechanical ventilation (adjOR: 8.8; 95% CI: 3.4 to 23.2; p < 0.001), and their composite (adjOR: 12.1; 95% CI: 4.3 to 33.9]; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: RHS-ECG was associated with mechanical ventilation and mortality in patients admitted with COVID-19. Special attention should be taken in patients admitted with new signs of RHS on presenting ECG.

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ePub ahead of print