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Adult Cardiac Surgery Down, Outcomes Worse During Pandemic

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10, 2021 -- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to sharp drops in adult cardiac surgery volume and worse patient outcomes, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, held virtually from Jan. 29 to 31.

Tom C. Nguyen, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used the STS Adult Cardiac Surgery database to assess surgical volumes, trends, and outcomes on national and regional levels (Jan. 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020). COVID-19 trends were assessed using the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 database (Feb. 1, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2021).

The researchers identified 717,103 adult cardiac surgery patients and more than 20 million COVID-19 patients. There was a 53 percent nationwide drop noted in all adult cardiac surgery volume and a 65 percent decline observed in elective cases. The effect of COVID-19 was most seen in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, which had a 71 percent reduction in overall case volume and 75 percent reduction in elective cases. Compared with the pre-COVID-19 baseline, in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, the observed-to-expected mortality for isolated coronary bypass increased by as much as 1.48 times.

"We clearly demonstrated that if you have heart surgery during COVID, you have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality," Nguyen said in a statement. "No doubt that COVID hit us hard."

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